October 22: The government’s program to distribute Rs 5 billion to 500,000 households before Dashain has been affected as the work procedure has not been approved by the Council of Ministers yet.
The replacement budget brought by the present government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba had provision to distribute Rs 5 billion to poor families.
Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had prepared a work procedure for the distribution of the relief and submitted it to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers could not pass the proposal of the Finance Minister as the work procedure could not clarify the definition of poor households and the exact figures.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance Ritesh Shakya said that the program could not be implemented even after Dashain as the work procedure could not be approved by the Council of Ministers. According to him, the program will be implemented as soon as the procedure is approved. “We are waiting for the decision of the cabinet,” he said.
According to sources at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the government had tried to distribution the relief amount on the basis of data of the National Planning Commission. However, the National Planning Commission has only the data of pre-Covid-19 period. Although the commission has been saying that it will study the impact of Covid-19, it has not been able to come out with a concrete report yet.
Amid the pandemic, the NPC had released a data on the basis of a study conducted last year. According to the study, 5 million people in Nepal are below the multidimensional poverty line.
The government had planned to distribute money to the poor based on the assumption that there would be at least five members in a family. The government relief aimed to help 2.5 million people from 500,000 households.
However, the Council of Ministers has not approved the work procedure proposed by Minister Sharma, saying that the money should be distributed only on the basis of the latest data, that means, it should also address the poverty created by Covid-19.
Economist Keshav Acharya says that the program could not be implemented because it was made public without proper study. According to him, if the government had first identified the poor and announced the program, there would have been no problem.