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Print Money For Quake Victims

Issue June 2015

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


It has been already one and a half months since the first major quake hit the central Nepal and shook the south Asia for a minute or so causing massive damages to the central Nepal and minor to other areas. Millions of Nepalese became homeless within a minute. They lost everything to the quake. People all over the world and the philanthropic organizations descended on Nepal to help the quake victims. The quick responses of the international organizations, governments and individuals to the disaster saved thousands of lives. It was a great opportunity for Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to demonstrate how dashing he was but he did not take it. Similarly, his Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat had a good opportunity of showing how generous he was but he too became so stingy. They could have helped the quake victims even printing money.


Immediately after the devastating quake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015, all charity organizations and individuals started off collecting donations from the generous people. Millions probably hundreds of millions of dollars were collected but the rusty mind of Dr Mahat forced Koirala to declare that all money collected should passed through the funnel called the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund. Dr Mahat called it a one-door policy. He declared that it was for avoiding the corruption. He pretended that nobody knew how the corruption menace had been plaguing in the Koirala-Mahat administration. The Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund got punished for non-visionary statement of the Koirala government that came from the greedy mind of the finance minister. None of the foreign donations collected for the quake victims was funneled through the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund so far. Thereafter, most of the charity organizations and individuals immediately stopped talking about collecting donations for the quake victims in Nepal.


Previously, Prime Minster Koirala and his government had been for providing the quake victims with some compensation for the loss of lives and homes. Recently, Dr Mahat categorically rejected in public the government providing the quake victims with a penny as compensation. He knew that he did not need to pay from his pockets; he needed not provide the compensations even from the State treasury but he was not even for providing the quake victims with the donated money from the Prime minister’s Disaster Relief Fund that the Nepalese people and organizations had so generously deposited their hard earned money for the relief of the unfortunate fellow citizens: quake victims.


Money was not the problem Finance Minster Dr Mahat told in public. He was right. Even with the national donations, the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund had been filled up to more than five billion Nepalese rupees. It was a large sum of money for Nepalese but the mean government and its finance minister did not want to distribute it in the amount the quake victims needed but to make sure that no fake victims would receive whatever the small amount the government had been delivering.


Finance Minster wanted to make sure that no fake quake victims would receive whatever the government was distributing to the quake victims. It was good that Dr Mahat was so concerned with the unscrupulous people getting relief money from the government. But he was not stopping even his beloved personal secretary Ramesh Mahat from returning the tin sheets sent to Nuwakot for sale in Kathmandu. It was understandable that whatever money his personal secretary would make from selling the tin sheets intended for the quake victims would be useful for him to spend on the next elections. That was no doubt about that. Every minister followed this very effective strategy of making easy money.


Any prudent minister would not wait for sorting out the fake victims for delivering the relief materials to the quake victims because while sorting out the crooks the real victims would suffer more than anybody would do. So, such a practical-oriented minister would go on providing the relief materials ignoring the few fake victims to bring the off-the-track lives of the victims to the regular track. The government was not distributing the State revenue but the Nepalese donors’ money from the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund; surely, the donated money was not supposed to be misused, too.


Money was not the problem again. The government could print as much as it needed to make sure that every quake victims had enough to build his/her life after the destructive quakes had taken away whatever s/he had made in her/his life.


Finance Minister knew it even the printed-paper money could help the victims to build their lives and to boost the national economy. But the finance minister did not want to do so because he had the mentality of the past Rana rulers that believed if the people were not kept poor, illiterate and destitute they could not rule over them, as the better off people would immediately seek their basic human rights. Dr Mahat surely could not stop Nepalese from being educated, he could not make them destitute but he could prevent the quake victims getting something to live on.


If Prime Minster Koirala were to be a wise politician it was a great chance for him to show how generous he was and how smart he was to help the quake victims but his thick head did not permit him to think positively and assist the victims in recouping their lost assets. He wasted the opportunity. He lost the opportunity of being an exceptionally high caliber politician. But he let himself caught in the political controversy of not being able to handle the quake victims. Politicians went on advocating for a so-called national government to cope with the quake disaster the nation had been facing. Instead of becoming an outstanding prime minister, Sushil Koirala became a good-for-nothing prime minister in the eyes of the common folks.


All political parties had been very generous to send their political cadres to rebuild the lives of the quake victims. Most of them built the temporary shelters on camera so that the world could see the politicians had been concerned with the destitute people. It was really an appreciable job they did but they failed to reach the quake victims where cameras could not reach. Naturally, those quake victims had to suffer for more than a month before any charitable organizations or individuals could reach them.


During this time, Prime Minister Koirala continued to receive the generous donations from the Nepalese donors on camera. Some generous people had donated even the money saved for the wedding of their daughters. They gave the check to the prime minister to deposit it in the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund and deliver it to the victims smartly.


Each time he collected the donations, Prime Minster Koirala assured the donors of not wasting the donations, and he even told them repeatedly that he would punish anybody misusing the donations. But Mr. Koirala did not realize that he himself was misusing the donations not distributing the donated money, as the donors had wanted not to mention taking actions against the personal secretary to the finance minister that had almost sold the tin sheets sent to the quake victims in Nuwakot. The prime minister had been keeping only one door opened as his finance minister wanted rather than opening the floodgates of many doors to reach the quake victims. Everybody knew that a single opening would not let flow the required amount of money to the needy people. But Mr. Koirala and his penny-pinching finance minister did not want to let pass the donors’ money from their control. Surely, one door was easier to close than many.


The Nepalese newspapers online and in print had published the government released billions of rupees for the delivery to the quake victims. The government also reported that the local administration had been facing the problems of delivering the money. Some victims received the Rs 15,000 for the temporary shelters others had hardly received anything. The local political cadres and the vocal people had a better chance of receiving and re-receiving such money distributed. Such small irregularities in distribution even could be tolerated if the relief money were to reach all the quake victims.


Money had been everything for the corruption-menaced ministers. Once the money had been in their control it was very hard to get out of them. That must be one of the reasons why the foreign donors did not drop a single penny in the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund. Ministers including the prime minister did not feel a shame of not having the confidence of the Nepalese in the ministers properly using the donations. Not only the Nepalese people but also the entire international community had lost faith in the Koirala government and his ministers. Who cares, they are corrupt and shameless. If those ministers including the prime minister had an iota of shame they would have quit en mass and let other sincere people run the administration.


Rather the finance minister was holding the donors’ meeting on June 25, 2015 to beg the donations to the tune of Rs 660 billions ($6.6 billions) in the names of the quake victims for reconstruction. It was not a big money for the donor community provided the Nepalese government would spend it judiciously on rehabilitation of the quake victims. Foreign donors knew that the government had not effectively and rationally used the Nepalese money. The donor community knew that the quake victims had been suffering not only from the loss of everything they had made in their lives but also from not having anything even from the Prime Minster’s Disaster Relief Fund. The donor community had adopted one strategy or another to reach the quake victims.


A recent online newspaper attempted to portray that the foreign governments, international organizations and so on also had over spent on delivering the relief materials to the quake victims stating a huge amount of money spent on hiring helicopters. But the reporter did not bother to understand or did not like to understand that how to reach the quake victims in the areas where the roads had not reached or the landslides triggered by the quakes had blocked the roads. Certainly, a helicopter ride was an expensive business but when one had no option but to use helicopters. Over spending might be when everybody was in a hurry to pull the quake victims out of the misery. Everybody willing to help the quake victims had to use whatever available means to reach the victims.


People could see the pictures posted on the facebook and elsewhere on the Internet how the quake victims had started off building shelters and houses from whatever debris the quakes had left and whatever the materials locally available. They did not wait for the corruption-menaced Koirala government. People also could have the information from the facebook on how local politicians also had been active to keep the relief materials in their depots. If they were to deliver those relief materials they did only to their cadres and the voters they knew that they voted for those politicians and their parties.


Political parties had been the corruption trees that had many branches of corrupt politicians and others, too. The prime minister, ministers, and all the political appointees had been the different branches of the corruption tree. Even the diplomats, and judges have been the parts of such a tree if we were to believe the Nepalese media. If anybody were to benefit from the government then s/he had to be the part of the branche of the corruption tree. S/he could enjoy any sort of benefits and luxury of life in this world becoming the part of the corruption tree. Any sincere person or anybody out of the sphere of such a tree had to go for a foreign job to earn livelihood. Politicians had made the country the haven of the corruption-infected people, and the hell for the sincere and regular people. Thanks to the ministers and the prime minister and other political leaders, Nepal has been in the 126th in the corruption index out of 176 of the Transparency International’s corruption perception index in 2014. It was a 10-point climb in comparison with 116 in the previous year.


June 14, 2015

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