Reconstruction Works   Moving At A Snail’s Pace

  

Uttam Maharjan

Recently the government has decided to sack the CEO of the National Reconstruction Commission (NRA) over his lacklustre performance. The CEO has also explained himself that the government should not have sought clarification from him.

It has been 20 months since the powerful earthquake struck the country in April 2015. The first year of the earthquake went by without any results. The quake victims had to pass the harsh summer and winter months in a state of agony. Although the government quickly convened a donors’ conference so as to arrange for financial assistance and the donors also pledged over four billion dollars for the reconstruction drive, the funds could not be managed in time as there was an inordinate delay in setting up the NRA.

CEO appointment

In the beginning, the political parties wrangled over appointment of the CEO of the NRA. They wanted to appoint their own man to the commission in view of the lucrative post. At long last, Sushil Gyawali was appointed as CEO of the NRA last year.

But the NRA has not been able to work satisfactorily. Within one year, what the NRA has done so far is distribution of the first tranche of the reconstruction grant among the quake victims. The grant has now been upped to Rs. 300,000 from Rs. 200,000 by the government. Still, not all the quake victims have received the first tranche.

The plight of the quake victims is like an ordeal. Although the government announced a concessional loan package for the quake victims, only a negligible number of the victims have availed of the loan. The main reason behind the reluctance of the victims to avail of the loan package is that the loan package is full of hassles. They have to comply with the credit policy of the banks, which is difficult to adhere to, especially in the rural areas. Banks do not give credit against the collateral without road access to it. In the rural areas, most of property cannot fulfill the criteria as laid down in the credit policy of the banks. Moreover, the banks would incur additional cost in inspecting and monitoring the collateral in the rural areas.

As a result, some quake victims of the rural areas have taken out loans from moneylenders at higher interest. This is their compulsion as the government has not heeded their plight. This has added to their woes further as they are debt-ridden now.

Progress in the reconstruction works has left a lot to be desired. There are many buildings, private and government; schools; and temples, historical palaces and monuments that have been awaiting reconstruction. Delay in the reconstruction works has sent a negative message to the world community. The tourists visiting the country return to their home countries with a bitter experience. How long it will take to complete the reconstruction works is in the womb of time.

But the CEO of the NRA is not ready to admit his inaction in failing to accelerate the reconstruction works. He claims that lack of cooperation from the concerned government bodies is responsible for the sorry state the reconstruction works are in. He has blamed the government for failing to provide the NRA with adequate funds and manpower and also for delaying in approving the revised grant of Rs. 300,000 and its second and third tranches of Rs. 150,000 and Rs. 100,000 respectively. Moreover, the CEO of the NRA is not willing to accept the blame levied against him by the government that he has failed to establish rapport and coordination among various government agencies.

In this regard, it will be in order to mention that the leader of the main opposition party, KP Sharma Oli, has blamed that the government has decided to sack the CEO of the NRA for no good reason. To recall, the CEO was appointed by the Oli-led government last year. Viewed thus, the whole caboodle of these affairs reeks of a political colour.

The political parties tend to poke their noses into virtually everything. The NRA does not seem to be free from this malady, either. As such, the NRA should be allowed to work independently so that the pace of works can be speeded up much to the relief of the quake victims. After all, the reconstruction works are closely linked with the lives of many people.

It is the duty of the government to make logistic arrangements so that the works of the NRA can proceed smoothly. The NRA should be adequately manned so that it will not meet with any hindrance on the way. The budget should not be a constraint for the NRA as rehabilitation and reconstruction are noble post-quake activities that directly benefit the quake victims.

 

 

 

 

Irresponsibility

Some time ago, engineers working for the NRA stopped work en masse, showing a height of irresponsibility. They might be dissatisfied with the NRA regarding some matters like delay in distributing the second tranche of the grant. Such points of difference should be settled with the NRA in a cordial environment. Leaving the work in mid-stream will not solve the problem. The government and the NRA should create a conductive environment for those, including engineers and technical personnel, engaging in the reconstruction works so that they will be motivated to work in the reconstruction works with more zeal and perseverance.

Further, the more the pace of reconstruction works picks up, the more spending takes place. This will inject a lot of funds into the market, which may contribute to resolving the liquidity crisis now plaguing the banks and financial institutions to some extent. Therefore, both the government and the NRA should pay attention to the reconstruction works in earnest.

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