"Peace Trust Fund Follows Rigorous Screening"

At a time when Nepal has been at the last leg of the peace process, Sadhu Ram Sapkota , joint secretary at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, and director of Peace Fund Secretariat, spoke to New Spotlight on various issues. Excerpts:

July 11, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -3 July 12- 2013 (Ashad 28, 2070)

As Nepal is going to hold the next elections for Constituent Assembly (CA) in November 19, how will Nepal Peace Trust Fund (NPTF) support this work?

NPTF is ready to fund the forthcoming CA elections. The Election Commission has already submitted the tentative budget of Rs. 5 billion for various projects.  Nepal government has already committed Rs. 3 billion and British government has already expressed its commitment of Rs. 2 billion and Swiss government 930 million rupees to the Fund. Similarly, EU committed 5 million Euro and we are also getting commitment from other donors. We have adequate funds to support the Election Commission .

What are the areas of support?

NPTF will support voter education project, management of ballot center, ballot box and election monitoring. Except administrative cost of the elections, the NPTF has received request for all election activities. Donors are very generous to fund the election activities. Donors have been saying that they want to support election through NPTF instead of going through bilateral mechanism.

How do you view the issue related to TRC and Disappearance?

Looking at its importance, the government has already brought TRC and Disappearance commissions through ordinance. Since both the commissions are dealing with the same issue, the government proposed one ordinance instead of making two separate ones. At a time when Nepal government is in the final stage to proceed with the ordinance, civil society and human rights groups and international communities have shown their reservation. As the government is in the process of considering the constructive suggestions, a petition was filed in the court and it is under consideration of the court. Since it is now subjudice, the government cannot move on it.

What role will NPTF have in the context of TRC and transitional justice system?

A lot of technical issues are involved in it. There are over 1,700 cases of disappearances and over 17,000 dead, a huge amount of money will be required for reparation. It will be more than a billion rupees. Since Nepal government alone will not be enough and we may need to request the government, then NTPF mechanism will be important.  To provide good outreach of TRC and Disappearances, the administrative cost will be high because it requires international consultation and other highly important support. Since this is one of the major components of the peace process, it falls under the NTPF's mandate. We also need to hold the local elections immediately after the CA elections.  NTPF needs to provide all kinds of support till the end.  The two commissions are important for sustainable peace. We expect that Nepal's development partners understand this.

What is the state of Nepal Peace Trust fund?

Nepal Peace Trust Fund Secretariat was created in 2007. One of the beauties of the fund is that it has certain unique characteristics.  The fund is the first of its kind in the world. This is a government led and managed fund. It is a multi-donor trust fund. The trust fund is owned by government and dealt by it. Since 2007, this fund started its operation. According to the provision, the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction is the chairman of the fund. The co-chair is the Finance Minister. Members include vice chairman of National Planning Commission, and Finance secretary, Home secretary are members. Similarly, five representatives of five major political parties are members of the fund. Likewise, there are members from the donor chair. The governing board also discusses progress of projects launched by UN and The World Bank.

How much money has it committed?

Nepal Peace Trust Fund has already committed 14 billion rupees. Out of this, projects worth of 12 billion rupees has already been approved. Nine billion rupees has already been spent. The fund has already launched 56 projects. Out of this, 28 projects have already completed and remaining 28 projects are ongoing.

What is the state of the projects?

The projects launched by the fund are very impressive and they are flagship projects. One of the successful projects supported by the fund was the election of Constituent Assembly in 2008. The Fund provided all the funding for the CA elections. Besides, the fund also supported the rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and reintegration in Nepal Army. Fund's other flagship project was the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Nepal Police Post destroyed during insurgency. Along with this, the fund has been operating various other projects through government institutions.

Who runs the projects?

Various institutions are running the projects  as per the UN Resolution 1325 and 1820 implementation of National Working Plan launched through 8 different implementing agencies.  To implement both the UN resolution, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction has also been implementing a small project. Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has also been implementing a project. Similarly, Ministry of Local Development, Home, Ministry of Industry including Nepal Police have also been implementing the projects.

Besides, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education have been launching the projects. In the days ahead, we are planning to launch non-formal education program with Ministry of Defense. Likewise, we are considering funding National Women’s Commission.

How is the mechanism to prepare projects and screen them, what is the working procedure?

The fund has its own governing board and under the chairmanship of Secretary at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. There is a technical committee which includes the chief of foreign aid coordination division of the Ministry of Finance, joint secretary of National Planning Commission and director of Peace Trust Fund. Only after the recommendation of the technical committee, the proposals are sent to the board for approval.

What are the stages of the planning process?

There are eight steps of the planning process to screen the projects forwarded to the board. The process of screening is very lengthy and scientific. The proposal should prove how it will contribute to sustain peace. The core cluster under the chairmanship of director examines the proposal. Only after finding it viable, the cluster approves the proposal and requests sending the draft proposal. After the technical backup, we have also the technical cluster. This is one of the tough and best processes. The cluster discusses the proposal in detail. The members of the committee include members from donor communities, representatives of NGOs and INGOs. After getting through the technical committee, we consider that proposal and it is sent to the committee. There is an intensive process. The proposal has to pass very tough process of screening before sending it to the final stage.

How does the funding come and who are the funders?

Nepal government is one of the major funding institutions. Besides that, other donors include DfID, European Union, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Finland and USAID. This is a joint mechanism of eight donor agencies and the government. All the funding agencies are generously supporting the fund. They are also taking part in all the activities of the fund. The fund has its own secretariat and European Union is providing technical support to the fund since this year. Earlier, it was GIZ which supported the secretariat. It is in the process of phasing out.  One of the beauties of the fund is that we need to report to all the donors. The funding use through this mechanism should be based on Nepal government's rule and regulations.

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