Government asks development partners to contribute to National Reconstruction Fund
The government today asked international community to support rehabilitation and reconstruction after devastating earthquake of last Saturday.
Briefing Kathmandu-based diplomatic missions at the ministry officially today – after 10 days of devastation and disaster brought by the 7.8-magnitude tremor on April 25 – foreign minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey requested them to contribute to the rehabilitation of displaced people and reconstruction of damaged infrastructures including century old temples and monuments.
The government has set up a $2 billion-National Reconstruction Fund with seed money of $200 million, he said calling the international community to contribute to the Fund. "Since rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts will require huge resources, Nepal is confident that international community will generously contribute to the Fund for the rehabilitation and reconstruction process."
Asking the international community to share their expertise and extend necessary cooperation to preserve our ancient cultural heritage, Pandey said that the government will give high priority to restoration of monuments and sites of historical, cultural and archaeological significance.
He asked the foreign donor organisations and individuals to consider the priority list while extending their support. "The government is distributing relief material on a priority basis," he added.
Thanking the friends of Nepal, on the occasion, for their support in rescue and relief activities following the devastating quake, he said that more than 76 rescue and 70 medical teams rescued some 16 people and recovered 150 dead bodies from the collapsed structures.
I extend sincere thanks to all the international supporters for their heroic rescue operations despite difficulties posed by recurrent aftershocks and rainfall in hard-hit remote areas, the minister said, wishing the rescue teams a safe journey back home.
Some 34 countries had sent their specialised Search and Rescue Teams after April 25.
The government has wished a safe journey back home to the international Search and Rescue Teams as the Central Disaster Relief Committee (CDRC) – headed by the home minister – had a day ago decided the country need no more foreign rescue teams as there is enough human and technical resources at its disposal to carry out search and rescue operations.
However, the government is still need for fully equipped, self mobilising, smart and efficient medical teams with orthopedic surgeons, anesthetists, neurologists, paramedics and general surgeons, according to the ministry.
On the occasion, the heads and representatives of Kathmandu-based foreign missions asked the government to smoothen the customs procedures while bringing relief materials. Though, the cabinet meeting on Sunday – the next day of the devastating earthquake – had exempted all customs and tax on import of relief materials, there was a huge confusion. Some of the development partners have blamed the bureaucracy for delay in customs that has hit the relief and rescue operations. They also complained that the planes carrying relief materials were held in the sky for a longer time and some even denied landing at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA). Though they didnot take any name, Indian choppers ferrying their nationals back have created traffic jam at the only international airport.
Pandey clarified that the government hass assigned a Joint Working Level Team consisting of Home, Finance, Foreign ministries immigration office and Nepal Army to facilitate and speed up customs clearance of relief materials.
Likewise, the heads of diplomatic mission also asked the government on restriction to NGOs and charity organisations in relief works. But Pandey clarified that those organisations have been only asked to carry out relief works in coordination with the local government authorities. "Though, the government appreciates the generocity of all individuals and organisations, it has become a duty of the government to regulate public funds and contribution raised in the name of disaster to ensure the utilisation," he said. "In the past, there are many cases of misuse of public funds collected in the name of disaster."