EDITORIAL: Speed it up

It is over a year and still many earthquake victims are without shelters. The grant should be provided without delay so that the homeless people can build permanent houses

It is indeed a pity that the housing grant provided for post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation for this fiscal, 2016-17, is on hold since July 16.

This is because the grant distribution to the victims of the devastating earthquakes last year has been halted after the beginning of the current fiscal year for the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has not authorized the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) to spend the budget allocated.

Many of the earthquake survivors still lack proper shelters as their homes have crumbled.

These victims used to receive grant amounts from the BFIs to be released by the District Treasury Controller Offices (DCTCOs) in the last fiscal year although the amount of grant they have been receiving is believed to be inadequate to build proper homes.

It is said that only 6.6 per cent of the of the identified eligible beneficiaries in the 11 districts that were hit hard by the quake have received the first tranche for the purpose of building their homes.

The first tranche amounts to Rs 50,000 and the government had announced a sum of Rs. 200,000 as aid.

Also disconcerting is the fact that the beneficiaries who have received the grant has remained the same since last week. Apparently, the DTCOs have not released the funds to the BFIs.

Due to the inefficiency of the concerned government bodies the District Administration Offices (DAOs) have yet to forward the file to the DTCOs to provide the relief funds to the banks concerned and the BFIs.

The go-ahead ought to be extended to the authorities to do so from the upper level showing a serious lapse on their part for the delay.

To spend the budget, the Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) is supposed to authorize the DAOs to forward the needed file to the DTCOs.

The delay is costing dear although the CLPIU is all set to provide the authority to spend the budget after approval from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.

In the meantime, the NRA officials say it is according the highest priority to granting distribution and also that they would see to it that the distribution process will not be obstructed in the future by granting permission to the concerned line agencies as soon as possible.

To expedite the rehabilitation and reconstruction work the NRA is also set to distribute the grant by using the branch-less banking services of the BFIs too.

For this details are sought of the branch-less banking services of the BFIs that have been chosen for grant distribution within this week.

The NRA which has been formed to assist the earthquake victims with grants to build their houses has also asked all the ministries that are concerned to provide the programmes designed specifically on the basis of Post-Disaster Needs Assessment and Post-Disaster Recovery Framework to enable the NRA to speed up the reconstruction drive which is progressing at a snail’s pace so far.

Considering that it is over a year and still many earthquake victims are without shelters, the proposed grant should be provided without delay so that the homeless people can build permanent houses.

Light action

The Department of Education and the district education offices put out news more than once every year that they will take stern action against the private schools who flout the government regulations and directives.

Now, for example, the department has directed the district education offices of the Kathmandu Valley to take action against those schools which are overcharging the students in violation of the fee fixation directives issued for the private schools.

It is common knowledge that most private schools are always found to be violating the regulations and the directives on more than one matter.

The question arises that how often and how many offenders have been punished in the past. Only a very few of the offenders get punished at all.

The punishment is often so light that it does not act as a deterrent to the offenders.

Right now, a number of private schools have been named as offenders during the recent official inspections of those schools. The penalty often amounts to thousands of rupees, and this is just a very small fraction of what the schools have already raised by overcharging.

Repetitions of offences rarely attract action again, not to speak of bigger penalties. Nor are the schools made to return the money thus collected.