Nepal probes alleged misuse of post-quake funds

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Nepal’s Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) said Monday it would recommend action against those found guilty of misusing money earmarked for post-earthquake reconstruction, after it found evidence of embezzlement by officials.

According to one of the allegations in a preliminary report released by the CIAA on Sunday, some 15 billion rupees (140 million dollars) from the prime minister’s relief fund was misused, the national RSS news agency reported.

Widespread corruption had occurred on procurement of relief material and its distribution, the office of the CIAA spokesman said.

Instances of relief distribution to fake earthquake victims had been reported, as the initial relief of 15,000 rupees (140 dollars) per fmaily distributed to victims had allegedly been handed out on the basis of political connections.

Two major earthquakes and their aftershocks in April and May killed more than 8,000 people and caused over 600,000 houses to collapse, leaving hundreds injured and thousands homeless.

Nepal had appealed to the international community for 6.7 billion dollars at the Nepal Reconstruction Conference held two months after the earthquake.

The international community pledged 4.4 billion dollars, but its impact is yet to be felt by those affected because the Reconstruction Authority is yet to begin operation.

Politicians have failed to appoint a head to the authority, because the government and the opposition are squabbling over which party’s candidate should get the post.

“The ordinance on the Reconstruction Authority has been delayed, which means the authority is not in a functional form, even though it was formed after the earthquake,” said Govinda Nepal, a financial advisor to the Ministry of Finance.

“Some work has begun, but unless the authority is functional, it cannot go ahead or oversee proper execution.”

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