KATHMANDU, Aug 6: Australia has scaled up its aid to Nepal by 5 million Australian dollars this year, bringing it up to A$ 35 million (about Rs 3.29 billion) per annum.
Visiting Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Secretary of Australia Richard Marles announced the raise in assistance when he met with the senior officials of Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Monday.
The fresh raise means Australian government´s annual development assistance to Nepal has tripled since 2008.
On the day, Marles met with Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun and other senior government officials and discussed on the steps being taken by the government to consolidate peace, stability and democracy. He also raised concerns over slowed economic and governance reforms, among others.
Marles appreciated progress made by Nepal on many of the Millennium Development Goals. “But we have concerns that a protracted political uncertainty may lead to erosion of some of these gains, and that Nepal may be unable to maintain momentum for reform and economic growth,” he stated.
Marles also disclosed that Australia would provide more than 80 Australian Awards to Nepal over the next four years, particularly targeting civil servants in the sectors it support. The Australian government has mainly been supporting Nepal on sectors like education, health, rural livelihoods and governance reforms.
He stated that AusAID, the development agency of the Australian government in Nepal, will invest A$ 35 million in education, health, rural livelihoods and governance reforms in order to improve the quality of life of the Nepali people.
However, Marles informed the officials that Australia was increasingly focusing on the results achieved from its aid while providing fresh assistances.
“Hence, future growth of Australia´s aid to Nepal will depend on results achieved and the strengthening of governance and financial management,” he stated.
Marles is in Nepal as part of this three-country visit that includes Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Korea.