October 3: The government is preparing to distribute Rs five billion to half a million poor families. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has prepared a work procedure and submitted the proposal to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) with a plan to distribute Rs 10,000 each to around 500,000 impoverished families.
According to a source at the MoF, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma has already submitted the work procedure to the Cabinet and it will be approve in the next meeting to distribute the cash to the beneficiaries before the Dashain festival. People who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will also be provided with the relief. In this regard, the cabinet has sought for further clear provisions and sent the work procedure to the law division of the OPMCM.
"The work procedure is being presented in the cabinet with more clarity. Cabinet is likely to approve it in the next meeting," said a source close to the MoF. The government had announced a cash relief package for poor families through the bill brought to replace the ordinance budget. To implement the decision, the officials of the ministry had started working to prepare the work procedure in 20 days.
Identifying a poor family
According to the Ministry of Finance, the government is relying on the data of the National Planning Commission for the distribution of cash to the families. The study done by (NPC) has found out that five million people are living below the poverty line. Estimating a family of five members, the work procedure has been prepared to benefit 2.5 million people of 500,000 households.
Money distribution process
As soon as the procedure is passed, the government will send the money to the members of the poor families who have opened bank accounts while the families with no bank accounts will be provided money through the village councils and local bodies.
The work procedure has provisioned that at least two neighbours should recommend that the respective family is poor and the ward chairperson should certify the recommendation. Then the poor families will receive the cash grant. The details of the beneficiaries' families should be kept safe by the respective local bodies.
Concerns about misuse of funds
Since the government has not identified any poor families so far, there are concerns that the funds meant for this program will be misused. "This cash grant should have been distributed to the affected families last year. Though late it is being distributed, the process of identifying beneficiaries is not ideal. "The budget should have clearly set the criteria of the beneficiaries which has not happened so there are concerns the real poor families might be left out," said Keshav Acharya, an economist.
According to Acharya, it would have been better if the government had collected the details of the poor families from the local level and distributed the money to the poor families.