Reconstruction authority uses mere 9.34pc of allocated funds
Kathmandu, May 5
The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), the apex body formed to lead post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation works, spent 9.34 per cent of the total budget in first nine months of current fiscal year, raising the spectre of massive underutilisation of funds this fiscal.
The Ministry of Finance, on February 28, gave authority to NRA to spend Rs 65 billion in the current fiscal. But NRA was able to use only Rs 6.11 billion of the allocated budget as of April 17, shows the latest report of the National Planning Commission, the apex body that frames the country’s development plans and policies.
“We have not been able to make use of all the funds because the NRA was formed only around four months ago. And since its establishment, we spent quite a lot of time framing appropriate policies, laws and guidelines to give impetus to reconstruction and rehabilitation works,” NRA Under Secretary Bhisma Kumar Bhusal told The Himalayan Times. “But we hope we will be able to expedite spending next fiscal, as the groundwork to initiate reconstruction and rehabilitation works has now been laid.”
One of the main reasons for underutilisation of budget was lower expenditure in the private housing sector.
The government had previously said its top priority was to rebuild private houses destroyed by the earthquakes of last April and May, so that quake survivors could move from temporary shelters to quake-resilient houses.
To support construction of these houses, the government had pledged to extend a grant of Rs 200,000 to every owner, whose house was devastated by quakes.
Although the grant was supposed to be released in three instalments of Rs 50,000, Rs 80,000 and Rs 70,000, the government so far has been able to extend first tranche of Rs 50,000 to 661 households in two village development committees (VDCs) of Dolakha district.
Due to this delay, the NRA was able to use only Rs 1.29 billion of the Rs 33 billion allocated for the housing sector in the nine-month period.
The NRA has currently identified 319,912 beneficiaries of the grant in 11 districts. It is now planning to revise the list and add around 172,000 households to it. This means around 491,000 will be eligible for the grant of Rs 200,000.
If the government is able to extend first instalment of the grant to these households soon, it can spend a total of around Rs 24.55 billion. But NRA officials said that is not likely to happen, ‘because the process of distributing money using the banking channel is taking time’.
This means a huge chunk of Rs 33 billion allocated for private housing sector will remain unutilised. While the housing sector has been facing problems in using the fund, education sector’s performance was a tad better.
The education sector consumed Rs 2.37 billion, or 38.74 per cent, of total allocation of Rs 13.50 billion in the six-month period. Almost all of the money was used for reconstruction of school buildings.
Among others, Rs 842 million was used in drinking water and sanitation sectors, Rs 681 million in urban development and Rs 233 million in forest and soil conservation.
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