Rs 4bn already spent to combat coronavirus

Kathmandu, April 21

The government has spent approximately Rs four billion so far to combat the spread of coronavirus in the country. As per the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the given amount was transferred under different headings to various ministries to fight the pandemic.

“A majority of the budget has been spent to procure different medical equipment and drugs required to treat coronavirus and test the infection and other security issues,” informed Uttar Kumar Khatri, spokesperson for MoF.

The government has been importing large volumes of medical kits from different countries, including China. Of late, the Nepali Army is also preparing to bring in medical kits required to combat the coronavirus from China. The government is offering free of cost treatment to coronavirus-infected people and the necessary medical tests of the virus among people is also being done for free.

As per Khatri, the Finance Ministry has transferred Rs 2.34 billion to the Ministry of Defence and Rs 1.15 billion to the Ministry of Health and Population alone to combat the spread of the pandemic. “A major chunk of the budget provided to these ministries was reallocated from other different programmes and projects,” he mentioned.

Khatri also informed that the Finance Ministry is reallocating funds of various low priority projects to prevent spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the government has not been able to spend more than Rs two billion that has been collected in the fund that was established to combat the spread of COVID-19. The government has already endorsed a guideline to mobilise the resources of the fund and has assigned the responsibility to operate the fund to the vice chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC).

NPC officials said that the commission is analysing different proposals received from both the government and private agencies on how to utilise the resources from the fund.

“NPC will disburse resources from the fund to needy agencies once the proposal assessment process is completed,” said an official of NPC, seeking anonymity.

A version of this article appears in print on April 22, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.