Rs 1.98 billion collected for coronavirus fund

Kathmandu, April 13

Though the government had set up the COVID-19 Control and Treatment Fund to combat the spread of the coronavirus and the unfavourable circumstances resulting from the pandemic, the private sector has not been so forthcoming in contributing to the fund due to transparency issues.

Though a few private firms have contributed to the fund, a majority of them have been making direct contributions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Nepal.

So far, Rs 1.98 billion has been collected in the COVID-19 fund with a majority of the contribution coming from government agencies, while a few insurance companies and telecommunication firms have also contributed to the fund.

Apparently, a major portion of the contribution has come from government agencies.

On Friday, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada had requested the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry delegation to contribute to the government fund and support the initiative.

Though FNCCI delegation had visited the finance minister to suggest measures that the government should take to revive businesses and the economy, Khatiwada, instead of boosting the morale of the private sector, urged them to contribute to the fund.

This clearly shows that the fund established by the government has failed to accumulate resources, especially from the private sector as expected.

“Whenever someone contributes to any fund or charity the one thing that’s on top of their mind is how transparently the contribution will be utilised,” said an industrialist who preferred to stay anonymous.

“As we have a history of the government failing to effectively mobilise such funds and ensure transparency of resources, businesses are helping the country combat the coronavirus through other means.”

While some corporate houses have been directly helping the government by supplying medical equipment and personal protective equipment to health institutions, other business conglomerates have kept mum on making contributions.

Renowned business houses like Chaudhary Group, Jyoti Group, Vaidhya’s Organisation, Murarka Organisation, IME Group, Prabhu Group and Panchakanya Group have been silent on extending financial support to the government.

“Corporate houses are not whole-heartedly extending financial support probably because they doubt the accountability and transparency of the fund. Supporting the government during this crisis even through other means will also be difficult due to the ongoing lockdown,” the industrialist said.

However, Rajendra Kumar Poudel, spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, claimed that transparency would not be an issue as the fund follows certain guidelines.

“In fact, the size of the fund is expanding. Many firms and individuals who have expressed their commitment to contribute are yet to deposit the money,” he added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.