Up to 920 children under the age of five in Bheri Township, Jajarkot District, received no food allowance in the past year.
“We went to NIC Asia Bank several times to get the pocket money for our children. But we had to return empty-handed, ”said Sanju Karki, a resident of the community. “It is the bank’s negligence that has led to this situation. We submitted a memorandum to the local unit to make the local administration aware of this. “
The federal government began a few years ago to provide nutrition grants to children under five in Jajarkot to help control child malnutrition. A child is entitled to Rs 400 per month under the Nutrition Grant program.
Children in the age group of stations 4, 8, 9 and 10 did not receive a grant for the 2020/21 financial year. Around 4.7 million rupees earmarked for the food subsidy system were frozen because the financial institution was unable to clear the amount for distribution in a timely manner.
All 13 districts of the municipality of Bheri distribute the social security allowance and the food allowance through different financial institutions. Districts 4, 8, 9, and 10 offices use NIC Asia to distribute allowances while other districts use Nepal Bank Limited, Rastriya Banijya Bank, and Citizens Bank, among others.
According to Dal Bahadur Gharti, the incumbent administration chief of the municipality, all other banks, except NIC Asia, have approved the food allowance.
Gharti said the community wrote a check to NIC Asia Bank on July 13 with other documents required to process the allowance.
“The check should have cashed within 15 days and the amount credited to the beneficiary’s accounts,” he said. “However, the amount was frozen because the bank could not cash the check.”
Meanwhile, Khagendra Malla, branch manager of NIC Asia in Jajarkot, said that all formalities, including opening bank accounts and checking documents, for the allowance are being processed at the bank’s headquarters.
“We couldn’t cash the checks before the deadline,” said Malla.
According to him, the bank officials are in discussion with the Bheri municipality, the district auditor and the bank’s headquarters.
“There has been a delay in opening bank accounts for the beneficiaries as most of the paperwork has to go through the head office. This is a new system that was introduced for security reasons, ”said Malla.
The District Treasury Comptroller Office in Jajarkot holds both the bank and the municipality responsible for the negligence.
“The checks could not be cashed on time due to the negligence of both the Bheri Municipal Office and NIC Asia Bank,” said Nareshraj Bhatta, district auditor. “Both parties could have dealt with the situation differently. When the community knew of the delay in opening bank accounts for beneficiaries, it should have looked elsewhere. Or the bank could have cashed the checks first and then transferred the money after opening the bank accounts. ”
According to the municipality, the budget for the food allowance was approved on July 11th. According to the agreement with the bank, on July 13th, the community sent a check for 4.7 million rupees to NIC Asia Bank for approval.
The lack of benefits particularly affects children from impoverished households.
“Since they have no money to buy nutritious, healthy food for the babies, the parents have difficulty feeding them,” said Bijaya Nagarkoti, an official with the Jajarkot Human Rights Network. “No child should go hungry for lack of pocket money.”
Jajarkot’s acting chief district officer, Hari Prasad Devkota, says the local government will immediately investigate the matter.
According to the acting head of administration Gharti, the municipality has been looking for alternative ways to approve the food allowance for the last financial year. “The County Treasury should review the documents and the Treasury should re-release the amount. We asked the District Treasury Comptroller Office to start the verification process, ”said Gharti.
However, Bhatta of the District Treasury Comptroller Officer in Jajarkot said that under the Financial Procedures Act, the documents should have been reviewed within seven days of the start of the new fiscal year. “We have exceeded the deadline,” he said.