Nepal | August 15, 2020

Independence Day 2020

Ministries cagey about PM relief fund spending

Rajan Pokhrel
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Ministry of Urban Development has reported that it utilised only 12 per cent of the total amount that it received from Central Disaster Relief Committee

Source: MoHA

Kathmandu, August 24

Four months have passed since the devastating earthquake struck the country killing over 8,900 persons but some of the ministries have not disclosed the spending details of the amount they received from the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Some interesting, as well as shocking facts, have also emerged out of the government closet, regarding the utilisation of relief fund as the Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam-led Central Disaster Relief Committee chanellised nearly Rs 14 billion in the aftermath of April 25 earthquake.

While the PMDRF secretariat has time and again raised concern about the status of billions of rupees that have been released from the fund for government agencies to provide an immediate relief to the quake victims, the updated statistics available at the Ministry of Home Affairs, however, shows that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and Ministry of Commerce and Supplies have not submitted expenditure details to MoHA yet.

Ministry of Urban Development, which allegedly embezzled fund by procuring low-quality tarpaulin sheets, has reported that it utilised only 12 per cent of the total amount that it received from CDRC.

According to National Emergency Operation Centre, MoUD received Rs 540 million, while MoPIT, MoFA and MoCS were given Rs 100 million, Rs 105 million and Rs 150 million, respectively. Interestingly, Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives said it purchased tarpaulin sheets worth Rs 4 million to provide emergency shelter to the livestock in worst-affected districts.

“Though the money received by the PMDRF from the government treasury or any other national or international source must be solely used for immediate relief and rescue, all 1,600 tarpaulin sheets bought in the first week of July have not been used,” a high-level official at the Animal Health Directorate revealed, adding that the agriculture ministry received Rs 250 million from the relief fund.

“Ministry of Industry reportedly purchased biscuits and instant noodles worth Rs 66 million, while Ministry of Health, which received Rs 55 million, however, reported that it spent nearly Rs 39 million to provide emergency healthcare services to the needy,” the MoHA’s data shows.

Nearly Rs 1.5 billion was released to seven ministries, as well as Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepali Army, but the data reveals that only Rs 483mn was spent by the concerned agencies.

Records of financial administration section of MoHA also show since April 26 it has released Rs 12.45 billion for 60 districts to provide immediate relief to the affected people. “Till date, district disaster committees have, however, spent Rs 10.46 billion for relief and rescue work,” it adds.

According to a MoHA source, it paid more than Rs 123 million to six private helicopter companies that reportedly commenced rescue flights for 594 hours immediately after the quakes. “Though the airlines demanded nearly Rs 130 million for their operations, MoHA paid only Rs 123 million to them by fixing a standard rate in time of crisis,” an official told this daily.

A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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