SIMKOT (HUMLA), June 13: A government body formed precisely for alleviating poverty has spent an exorbitant sum of money for monitoring one of its programs.
Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), chaired by Prime Minister, has agreed to pay Rs 100,000 for chartering two helicopters to take 10 government officials, political leaders and stakeholders from Simkot -- the district headquarters of Humla -- to monitor a poverty-alleviation program in Limi VDC.
According to Bijaya Lama, who arranged two chartered helicopters owned by Simrik Air and Fishtail Air for the trip, PAF has already paid Rs 50,000 in advance. "I will get the rest of the money later," said Lama.
PAF has decided to charter two helicopters despite stiff resistance from some local politicians. Birkha Mahat, a Humla-based central committee member of Rashtriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, says that the helicopter charter has shown how the government budget meant for the poor is being misused. "Government officials, NGOs and politicians are all involved in budget misuse," says Mahat. "Chartering helicopter was not necessary."
Shovanya Rokaya, district chapter president of Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, says that the objective of chartering helicopter was to go on an excursion rather than monitoring any program. "Many people are hardly able to arrange two squares meals a day," Rokaya said, adding, "It is a shame that helicopters have been chartered by using money meant for the needy."
However, Shree Ram Subedi, spokesperson for PAF, says that helicopters were not chartered in Humla. "It is against our rules to charter helicopters," he said, adding, "These were like shared taxis.We have allowed our district officer to pay only Rs 25,000 for each person. We will not pay more than that."