Officials visiting India to expedite release of reconstruction loan

January 13, 2018 02:06 AM


KATHMANDU, Jan 13: Senior government officials from various line ministries as well as National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) are visiting India to expedite the process of releasing US$750 million 'soft loan' India has offered for post-quake reconstructions in Nepal.

The 11-member team is visiting the Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) in Mumbai on January 15 to understand the procedures to utilize the Line of Credit (LoC) India has offered to carry out reconstruction of various infrastructures destroyed or damaged by 2015 earthquakes. “The visit is aimed at familiarizing officials in Nepal about the process to utilize the LoC facility in the reconstruction work in agreed areas,” said an Indian Embassy official Gyanveer Singh, who oversees India's development assistance in Nepal.
 
The team comprising senior officials from various ministries including education, health, culture, finance, culture and the NRA are scheduled to interact with the Exim Bank officials and even request them to simplify the procedures in order to expedite the utilization of  LoC in post-quake reconstruction during the five-day visit.  
As per India's pledge to provide USD 1,000 million assistance including USD 250 million grant component, the Exim Bank has approved USD 750 million LOC to Nepal to finance its post-earthquake reconstruction projects.  Although the LOC to Nepal was effective from February 24, 2017, Nepal has not been able to utilize it till date largely due to procedural confusion among Nepali officials. 

Earlier, Nepal and India agreed to utilize the LoC for the reconstruction of school and university buildings, health sector buildings, government buildings and cultural heritage sites. As per the agreement reached between the two sides, Central Level Program Implementation Units (CLPIUs) under the ministries concerned will prepare the detailed designs of their respective projects and submit them to the EXIM Bank of India for approval. The members of the visiting team are among those heading the CLPIUs in their respective ministries in Nepal. 

During the visit of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to New Delhi in August, 2017, Nepal and India had agreed to expedite the LoC mobilization. The NRA, which is mandated to oversee all post-quake reconstruction and rehabilitation work, and the Indian embassy in Kathmandu had then even organized a training for over two dozen officials of various ministries to familiarize them with the Exim Bank's guidelines and procedures.

Officials at NRA said the delay in expediting the process of utilizing the LoC was also because the Indian side is yet to hire consultants who would prepare as well as approve the detailed project reports on reconstruction. They are currently awaiting approval of detailed project reports of 24 archeological sites and over a dozen schools needing reconstruction. 

As the grant component of the India's post quake reconstruction assistance has also yet to arrive, NRA has financed the first and second installments of housing grants to 50,000 beneficiaries in Gorkha and Nuwakot from other sources. “We have written to the Indian side for the reimbursement of total Rs 2.5 billion disbursed to 50,000 households,” said Dr Bhishma Kumar Bhusal, deputy spokesperson of the NRA. 

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