Kathmandu: Rs 3 billion has been deposited in the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund. Big disasters come but that money doesn’t go unnoticed. Joint Secretary and Spokesperson of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Rajendra Prasad Poudel says that the amount in the fund will not be spent much. “It simply came to our notice then. Disaster costs, ‘he says. He says that not a single penny was spent from this fund last year.
According to him, if there is any major calamity, it will be spent from the fund only if the allocated amount does not work. The Prime Minister’s Office does not spend this fund either. There is a provision to provide only if there is a demand in case of disaster.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund has been established in accordance with the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund Operation Rules 2063 using the right given by Article 2 of the Administrative Procedure (Regular) Act 2013. The coordinator of this fund is the Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission. Secretaries of various ministries including Home, Health and Population, Prime Minister’s Office and Council of Ministers are members.
The fund will be used to deal with the loss of property due to floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, excessive rainfall, droughts, diseases transmitted by livestock and other organisms or epidemics of contagious diseases, road accidents due to natural causes. The money is used to rescue victims of natural disasters, set up temporary camps for immediate relief, buy food, clothing, medicine, and treat the injured and sick.
The fund is also used for the construction and rehabilitation of temporary shelters for the victims. Funds provided by the Government of Nepal, various donor countries, donor organizations, domestic and foreign non-governmental organizations, political parties, trade unions, civil society, general public and professional organizations have been contributing to the fund.
There is a provision that the amount of the fund cannot be made available to the employees in the form of salary allowance, travel expenses, donations, gifts and rewards. There is also a provision not to provide financial assistance to anyone except for issues related to natural disasters.
The amount of the fund is used only on the recommendation of the Central Disaster Relief Committee and the District Disaster Relief Committee through the Ministry of Home Affairs considering the intensity and prevalence of natural disasters and the justification of the funds available in the fund.
Although not spent through the Prime Minister’s Office, the Central Disaster Relief Committee and the District Disaster Relief Committee have been found to be misused. In the report of the Auditor General’s Office, it is mentioned that no control system has been established while disbursing the cash from the disaster fund.
‘Disaster management funds cannot be spent on anything other than disaster management. However, the money for the work was spent on the inauguration of hospitals and campuses and district and area administration offices, as well as the use of helicopters, the report said. The report states that it is not appropriate to pay the helicopter rent used for unrelated work from the amount disbursed for disaster relief. He said that the disaster management money should be spent only on related works.
There is a situation where the details of the commodities received at the center, including the price, are not kept in the commodity book and the updated commodity records are not kept, the commodities are not classified according to the nature and purpose of the commodities and the demand form is not used for distribution. The report states that appropriate protection should be provided by increasing the staff capacity and updating the gender data.