Housing grant distribution on hold since July 16

Kathmandu, July 25

Grant distribution to the quake survivors has been stalled since the beginning of new fiscal, as the Ministry of Finance (MoF) was slow in authorising National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) to spend the budget earmarked for post-quake reconstruction and rehabilitation for this fiscal, 2016-17.

Since the new fiscal started on July 16, the District Administration Offices (DAOs) have not forwarded any file to District Treasury Controller Offices (DTCOs)to release the grant amount for the beneficiary households to the concerned banks and financial institutions (BFIs). Line agencies cannot spend the budget unless the authority to do the same is extended from the upper level.

“The DAOs will not forward any file to the DTCOs until they get the authority to spend the budget from the Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD),” said Prakash Dahal, undersecretary of the MoFALD and focal point for the reconstruction-related works in the ministry.

Quake survivors received the grant amount from BFIs from the payment issued by the DTCOs till last fiscal. Only 6.6 per cent or 39,702 of the total 531,937 identified eligible beneficiaries in 11 quake-hit districts have received first tranche (Rs 50,000) of the government-announced Rs 200,000 aid as of today.

The number of beneficiaries that received the first instalment of the grant has remained the same since last week because DTCOs have not released funds to the BFIs.

The CLPIU will give the permission to DAOs to spend the budget once it gets a go-ahead from NRA, according to Dahal.

NRA, on the other hand, has said that it is all set to extend the authority to CLPIU to spend the budget allocated for housing reconstruction. “We have only recently received the authority to spend this fiscal year’s budget from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM),” said Ram Prasad Thapaliya, spokesperson for the NRA, adding, “We will most probably send the authority to CLPIU by tomorrow.”

The grant distribution process, which has been stalled since the beginning of this fiscal, will resume after the CLPIU under MoFALD authorises the DAOs to spend the budget allocated for the reconstruction of individual housings, according to Thapaliya.

The MoF, through the OPMCM, had given permission to NRA to utilise the budget. The OPMCM has authorised NRA to mobilise Rs 84 billion out of the total Rs 142 billion allocated for the reconstruction of earthquake ravaged structures this fiscal, 2016-17.

“It took several days to get permission from MoF to spend the budget,” Thapaliya stated.

Stressing that NRA gives top priority to grant distribution, he further said, “We’ll make sure the distribution process is not stalled for long as we are preparing to give authority to the concerned line agencies at the earliest.”

He also informed that the NRA is making preparations to distribute grant utilising the branchless banking services of BFIs as well. NRA has asked the district coordination subcommittees for reconstruction, which is led by the local development officers, to submit the details of branchless banking services of the BFIs selected for grant distribution in existing clusters to the CLPIU within a week to expedite grant distribution process.

In addition, the NRA has urged the concerned ministries to submit the programmes that were designed on the basis of Post Disaster Needs Assessment and Post Disaster Recovery Framework and entered in line ministry budget information system (LMBIS) to the reconstruction authority to accelerate the reconstruction drive.