Govt to Request WB to the Deadline of extend Youth Employment Transformation Initiative Project

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Govt to Request WB to the Deadline of extend Youth Employment Transformation Initiative Project

April 14: Even though the term of a project under the Prime Minister's Employment Program is about to expire, the officials of the Ministry of Labor have decided to extend the deadline of the project as a quarter of the budget received as foreign aid has yet to be spent.

To improve the results of Nepal's employment services and labour market, the 'Youth Employment Transformation Initiative Project' (YETI) was implemented in July 2020 with a concessional loan supported by the World Bank. The project’s term is ending in June this year.

According to the Prime Minister's Employment Program Secretariat, an agreement was reached in 2019 where the World Bank agreed to provide about USD 120 million (about Rs 16 billion) to implement this project. 

"Out of the money coming from the World Bank, Rs 4 billion have yet to be spent," Shobha Kumari Pokharel, under secretary at the Prime Minister's Employment Program, informed New Business Age, "That's why we are now lobbying to extend the deadline by a year."

According to her, the implementation of the program could not be done properly in the initial year due to coronavirus pandemic. Because the skill training could not be conducted as expected, the budget could not be spent within the stipulated period.

“Now we have sent a proposal to get the approval of the Ministry of Finance to extend the program. No response has been received from there," said Pokharel. 

"We are confident that the duration of this project will be extended by 1 year as discussions are ongoing with the related donor agencies. In that case, the unspent money will be utilized".

This project is associated with the Prime Minister's Employment Program and aims to create employment opportunities and increase the access of the target group to available job opportunities, increase the income of the workers and improve the living conditions of the target group.

Under this program, the aim is to create jobs for 100,000 unemployed youth for the maintenance of public infrastructures and in the public service sector. There is a condition that 60 per cent of them should be women. The project is being implemented at the local level.

As mentioned on the website of the Prime Minister's Employment Program, more than 885,000 unemployed individuals are registered for the program in the hope of getting employment. At the end of 9 months of the current fiscal year, only 28,300 people have been employed.

This program was launched to employ citizens in the age group of 18 to 59 years who have not been employed for at least 100 days in a year. The government has been saying that it will provide a subsistence allowance equal to 50 days' wages if it is not able to provide employment.

However, there has been criticism that the budget under this is used for petty works and that there is no significant achievement in the economy and employment. Stakeholders have raised questions about the feasibility of the project, saying that the loan money was spent on works such as cutting roadside bushes, planting apples, cleaning drains, uprooting weeds, throwing soil from drains on the road, and sweeping temples and schools.

In this context, the finance ministry officials say that they will decide whether to request an extension or not only after studying the effectiveness of the project.

At a time when serious questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the program, the finance ministry has not shown much interest to renew the deadline.

Recently, Labor Minister Dol Prasad Aryal met with the World Bank's Nepal Coordinator and senior officials and requested to extend the duration of the project, which will end on June 30th.

Dilaram Giri, Information Officer of the Public Debt Management Office, said that if the project time is not extended, the World Bank will not send the remaining money to the account of the Nepal government.

For the current year 2080/81, the government has allocated Rs 5.94 billion for the Prime Minister's Employment Program.

While presenting the policy and program of the previous year to the Parliament, then-President Bidya Devi Bhandari announced that the program would be restructured so that it would be owned by all levels.

According to the Secretariat of the Prime Minister's Employment Program, although a committee has been formed for restructuring the program, the committee has not yet submitted a report to the Labor Minister. Section Officer of the Prime Minister's Employment Program Secretariat Pankajalav Karna said that the report has been roughly prepared and is ready to be submitted to the minister in a few days. 

"The committee has almost prepared the draft of the report, now it will be filed and submitted soon," he said.

Under the Prime Minister's Employment Program launched by the government led by KP Sharma Oli in the year 2075/76, billions of rupees have been used up in petty jobs. In the first year, the program was accused of exploiting billions of state funds in unproductive areas.

At the beginning of the year 2075/76, the government allocated a budget of Rs 3.1 billion for the Prime Minister's Employment Program. In the same way, Rs 5.1 billion were allocated in 2076/77, Rs 11.6 billion in 2077/78, Rs 12 billion in 2078/79 and Rs 7.5 billion in 2079/80. This budget has financial resources from both the government and the World Bank.

The Auditor General's report has repeatedly raised questions about the expenses incurred through the Prime Minister's Employment Program.


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