The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has written to all 753 local levels, directing them to refund the unspent amount of budget allocated by the Government of Nepal as conditional grants under the Prime Minister Employment Programme for the last fiscal 2020-21.

Last fiscal, the government had allocated a total of Rs 11.60 billion to operate the approved PMEP programmes for providing a minimum of 100 days of employment to the working age population aged 19-59 years, who are listed as unemployed at the local levels concerned. The conditional grants provided by the government must be spent to ensure employment of listed unemployed persons.

In response to a letter received from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security last week, the MoFAGA told the local units to refund the unspent amount to the government through the District Treasury Controller Office compulsorily.

"The local levels have also been directed to submit statements of headingwise expenditure and their documentary evidences to the MoLESC as soon as possible," said an official at the MoFAGA.

As many as 700,000 people were listed as unemployed at the local levels in the last fiscal.

However, only 105,600 people had got employment for an average of 16 days against the provision of 100 days under the PMEP being operated through the local governments. According to officials, many local levels could not operate the PMEP due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 21,400 projects/ programmes were proposed in relation to community-based 'Cash for Work' during the period, but only around 4,300 got implemented.

The government had mobilised employment coordinators in most of the local levels to collect the details of unemployed people. These coordinators collect details and data of unemployed persons at the respective local levels, update it and provide identity cards to the listed unemployed people.

The listed unemployed persons are provided employment opportunities in road construction, agriculture, irrigation, rural water supply, health, sanitation, education, forest and tourism and other labour-centric projects depending on their qualification, skill and areas of interest.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 1 2021, of The Himalayan Times.