Govt's unkept promises on Karnali Employment Program
KATHMANDU, July 29: When the government launched Karnali Employment Program (KEP) in 2006/07, it boasted the program would provide a 100-day job to at least one member of every family in the five remote districts of the impoverished zone.
Begun with an annual allocation of Rs 180 million, the government as of the end of 2011/12 has allocated a total of Rs 1,316 million for the program spending Rs 996 million in Jumla, Kalikot, Dolpa, Mugu and Humla.
It also boasted the program as a huge success. However, the assessment carried out by the National Planning Commission shows quite the contrary.
“Contrary to the promise of providing 100-day employment, we found that KEP all through these years provided employment for an average of just 13 days. This is pretty dismal,” said Tulasi Neupane of TEAM Consult, an agency that carried out the assessment.
The state cheated the people of Karnali not just on the number of days (of employment), but also on the wage it paid them.
The government under the program paid Rs 201 to each worker a day, cites the assessment report. “This wage is far lower than the market rate,” it adds.
Worse still, the wage paid is less than the statutory minimum wage rate that the government has enforced, said Neupane. Moreover, the report claims the workers were not paid on time.
Data shows, budget allocation for the program in 2011/12 was 44 percent higher than that allocated in 2006/07.
In order to provide jobs, the government has implemented various infrastructure projects, such as construction of wooden bridges, drinking water facility, small irrigation canals, dirt roads, monasteries, schools and plantation. A total of 3,358 projects have been completed so far, and they provided employment to around 74,000 households in the districts in 2009/10.
However, the assessment report has questioned the process of selecting the workers. Though the program is exclusively meant for the poor households, the report says others have also been benefited. “The selection process must be corrected if the government is to provide relief to the poor,” suggests the report.
Nevertheless, the program has enabled 20.5 percent of the total beneficiary households to invest in land, livestock, agricultural tools, household articles, radios and mobile sets. Forty-two percent of the total beneficiaries now have access to irrigation facility, which has contributed to increase in their household incomes.
“Their consumption pattern has not changed, but the program has raised their expenditure on education from 18.1 percent in 2006/07 to 22.5 percent in 2010/11,” reads the report. Expenditure on health has marginally increased to 7.6 percent during the period.
The report has urged the government to strengthen monitoring and supervision system in order to make sure the program delivers on its promise.