Chandan Kumar Mandal
Over 500 local units have received a new budget allocation from the federal government to implement the Prime Minister Employment Programme (PMEP), which ensures a minimum 100 days of wage employment to registered unemployed citizens.
The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the central government agency supervising the programme, has allocated Rs3 billion to the local units which will be implementing various projects under the PMEP for generating temporary jobs for unemployed people at the local level.
With the latest allocation, a total of 569 local units have received a budget of Rs6.89 billion this fiscal year, according to Suman Ghimire, joint secretary at the Labour Ministry.
“We have dispatched the second batch of budget to the local units. The first allocation was made soon after the budget was announced for this fiscal year,” Ghimire, who is also the national programme director of the PMEP, told the Post. “The local units can now start their projects and provide jobs to registered locals. Some local governments are already implementing the employment projects.”
According to the Labour Ministry’s data, 862 citizens have been benefitted by getting jobs under the PMEP so far.
The government has placed high hopes on the PMEP for creating jobs to the unemployed population, as the country is reeling under acute job losses and untimely and unprecedented return of thousands of Nepali migrant workers from labour destinations countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through this year’s budget, the government had announced to generate 200,000 jobs through the PMEP. It had also doubled the budget for the programme to Rs11.6 billion.
Whether the government’s employment programme will work remains to be seen though. Two years into its implementation, the much-talked-about employment scheme has so far failed to achieve its aim of providing a minimum 100 days of work to the targeted population.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, the programme could generate 1,603,883 days of work for 102,641 applicants, with a mere 15 days of work on a national average against the envisaged target of providing a minimum 100 days of work.
With the total budget allocation of Rs 6.89 billion into the programme, the government aims to provide a minimum 100 days of wage employment to 133,327 jobless population registered with the Employment Management Information System (EMIS).
“The concerned local governments will be implementing the projects in their respective areas on various sectors like agriculture, tourism, drinking water and development-related constructions,” said Ghimire. “This year, we have made some changes to the directive and allowed the local governments to select and prioritise their projects under the PMEP.”
The previous directive for the implementation of the programme was time-consuming as it required the local governments to seek approval from the Labour Ministry for projects.
Last year, the government had made some operational changes which sought detailed project plans in advance from the interested local units for effective implementation of the PMEP. Only after their projects were approved, the ministry parcelled out the budget.
Under the new directive, Ghimire said the local units can select the projects through their local council meetings, making the implementation process much swifter.
The Labour Ministry hopes that this year the PMEP will make significant progress in comparison to previous years.
“Most of the local units have already gone into the project implementation phase, bar some who are still lagging behind due to various reasons,” Ghimire told the Post. “In some local units, the programme could not be implemented because the local leaders were infected with the coronavirus. In others, the unemployment registration process could not take place due to issues with the internet connections.”
Besides, Ghimire added local units in remote regions and mountainous districts had problems implementing the programme while some sub-metropolitan and metropolitan cities have not applied for the PMEP at all.
The federal government has been repeatedly asking local governments to provide 100 days of work to registered citizens who have been kept on the priority list before switching to another group of people.
This should help ensure a minimum 100 days of employment to the beneficiaries, something which has not been achieved yet, according to Ghimire.
“The Prime Minister Employment Programme was rolled out to provide opportunities to the ultra-poor groups first. We have been telling local levels to employ such groups before mobilising other groups,” he said.
“We have started earlier this year, so we expect to achieve our goal.”
Published on: 19 November 2020 | The Kathmandu Post