KATHMANDU: Donor nations and agencies announced $4.4 billion in aid for Nepal on Thursday, covering about two-thirds of what the Himalayan nation says it needs to rebuild from devastating earthquakes that killed more than 8,800 people and made millions homeless.
Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the amount was pledged by donors that attended a one-day conference in Kathmandu.
The biggest pledge came from Nepal’s large southern neighbor, India, which offered $1 billion in grants and low-interest loans.
Nepal and India are joined in both their joys and sorrows. Therefore, we need to closely coordinate our disaster response, and help each other in the wake of such calamities,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
Nepal says it needs about $6.7 billion for reconstruction following a magnitude-7.8 earthquake on April 25 and a magnitude-7.3 quake on May 12, which together killed 8,841 people. About 875,000 public and private buildings were damaged, according to the National Emergency Response Center.
Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao pledged $600 million.
ADB will make the best use of its long-term experience in rehabilitation and reconstruction work after serious disasters,” he said.
ADB is a major donor for Nepal and has supported several development projects in the past.
Japan said it would give $260 million and the United States $130 million. The World Bank has already announced $500 million for Nepal.
European Union’s Neven Mimica said it would give $112 million to Nepal’s government for spending on reconstruction.
Earlier, Mahat said Nepal’s trade deficit will widen because of the earthquakes, but foreign reserves will remain adequate with transfers from the rest of the world increasing. The quakes destroyed factories and farmland, reducing exports and pushing up imports.
Revenue collection will face a shortfall of 8 percent during the current fiscal year, he said.
“This is the reason why we are looking to our development partners to fill a growing fiscal gap for the next three to five years,” he said.