Provinces following federal government’s one-door policy

Most provinces have not announced their own schemes citing chances of duplication

Kathmandu, April 6

Most provincial governments have not come up with their individual programmes for relief and support of those hit by the coronavirus lockdown, and have stuck to the one-door policy of relief distribution adopted by the federal government.

Although almost all provincial governments have allocated budget or have set up funds in their fight against COVID-19, most of them have refrained from announcing individual programmes citing chances of duplication with the federal government’s schemes and a possible rise in populist activities.

Only Province 2 and Sudurpaschim Province have made formal announcements of schemes.

As per the central government’s announcement, local levels will distribute relief materials only through respective ward chairs, which is termed ‘one-door policy’.

Most provincial governments have decided to transfer funds to local bodies to support the initiative.

Province 1 Minister of Law and Internal Affairs Hikmat Karki said the province decided to support local governments facing budget deficit. He said the provincial government also had enough food stock, which would also be distributed through the local levels.

“For all these purposes, including treatment and relief, we have allocated a budget of Rs 100 million,” said Karki. “We will move ahead in line with the one door policy of the federal government.”

Similarly, Gandaki Province has allocated Rs 65 million for relief distribution, while it has also set up a separate fund worth Rs 150 million if any individual or institution can contribute.

Gandaki provincial government’s Physical Infrastructure Minister and Spokesperson Ram Sharam Basnet said their first priority for relief distribution was daily-wage earners. He said the province was distributing rice, lentils, oil and salt through local governments.

Karnali Province Land Management Minister and Spokesperson Bimala KC said the province had decided to immediately deposit funds for the respective local governments depending on the poverty status. “We are studying the poverty status of various local bodies. Once we complete categorisation, we will immediately transfer funds,” said KC.

KC added that her province did not come up with a separate programme to ensure that there was no cheap publicity by representatives and that the aid reached the targeted community through the federal government’s one-door policy.

The province has set up a fund of Rs 500 million, in which anybody or any institution can contribute.

Sudurpaschhim Province Law and Internal Affairs Minister Prakash Shah said they were studying the number of those below the poverty line, daily-wage earners and the indigent. He said as soon as the study was completed they would start distributing relief through local governments. “We will transfer funds to accounts of local governments for relief distribution,” said Shah.

The province has allocated Rs 400 million in its fight against coronavirus, which Shah said could swell to 900 million rupees. The amount will be spent for relief, quarantine facilities, treatment and laboratories.

However, none of the provinces has come up with any measure aimed at businesses and employers. Basnet of Gandaki Province said since banking and industrial affairs were mostly looked after by the federal government, they were first prioritising relief to the general public, who were affected the most.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 06, 2020 of the Himalayan Times.