KATHMANDU - Nearly four months after a massive quake devastated Nepal, the government has set up a new state body to lead reconstruction efforts, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's office said Friday.
The government says Nepal will need around US$6.7 billion (S$9.4 billion) to pay for rebuilding and wants all reconstruction funds to be channelled through the new body, raising concerns that bureaucracy and poor planning will delay rebuilding.
Political wrangling delayed the formation of the new National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) for several weeks, even after international donors pledged $4.4 billion to rebuild the Himalayan nation.
The government on Thursday appointed Govind Raj Pokharel, vice chairperson of the national planning commission, to head the new body, said Uttar Kumar Khatri, spokesman for the Prime Minister's office.
"In the past we have experienced delays while working on mega projects due to lack of authority and legal hurdles... keeping that in view, government has given full authority to the NRA so it won't face problems on issues like land acquisition," Khatri told AFP.
The new authority, which will be monitored by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, will have five years to complete its task and will have to present a public report on its progress every four months, Khatri said.
"Reconstruction is not only a national issue now but it's a matter of our image in the global arena. We want to show the world that Nepal can be rebuilt within five years," Khatri said.
The April 25 quake killed more than 8,800 people and destroyed some 600,000 homes, leaving thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter.
The government has allocated nearly a billion dollars to the rebuilding effort in its annual budget.
This includes cuts in customs duties on construction materials as well as low-cost loans to quake survivors seeking to repair or put up new homes.