Nepal COVID-19 relief package

Besides announcing an extension of the COVID-19 lockdown, Sunday’s Cabinet meeting has also decided on a relief package to cushion the impact of the disease on the economy.

The package includes a 25% discount on electricity for consumers who use more than 150 units every month. and no penalty if utility bills and tax payments are not cleared till mid-April. The government has asked Internet Service Providers to extend a 25% discount to customers on data and voice call packages.

The announcement was made by Finance and Information Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada who is also the government spokesperson.

Among the other social safety net for those who have suffered loss of daily wages, the government also announced was a 10% discount on rice, flour, dal, salt sugar and oil supplies from Nepal food Corporation and Salt Trading Corporation.

The government will now start making up a list of those eligible for food aid, and beneficiaries have to get a identity card from their ward councils. Provincial and municipal government swill also distribute food aid depending on size of families, and with special priority for expecting mothers, orphans, the disabled or those with chronic illnesses.

The government has asked companies, especially those in the tourism sector to pay salaries for March-April to employees for which they will be allowed to use social welfare funds until business returns to normal. The government will deposit the salaries for March-April to workers in the organised sector who are registered with the Social Security Fund.

The government has also asked landlords to not demand one month rent from daily wage earners, and private schools not to charge one month fee from students.

The Coronavirus Control High-level Task Force has also warned that the Home Ministry will enforce a law to imprison those who return from abroad not staying in quarantine for 14 days. The penalty for non-compliance is up to six months in jail. There are hundreds of Nepalis workers returning from India who are stranded on Nepal’s southern and western borders after India also enforced a lockdown on 19 March.