With the national economy taking a hit due to COVID-19, federal lawmakers have received Dashain allowance equal to one month’s salary i.e. Rs 64,070.

The government also decided to provide festival allowance to members of office bearers’ private secretariat and also lawmakers’ private aides who have served for six months.

The government, meanwhile, has barred civil servants from drawing festival allowance in the face of the pandemic.

Let alone the general public who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, it is important to note that doctors and healthcare workers of various hospitals working in the frontline and risking their lives were forced to stage protests in the past months after the government denied them their encouragement allowance.

In a message given on the occasion of the 40th World Food Day on Friday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli reiterated his government’s commitment to ensure basic food security to the citizens.

His message said, “It is the responsibility of a welfare state to ensure basic food security to its citizens. Thus, the constitution of Nepal has defined the right to food as one of the fundamental rights.”

Prime Minster Oli’s message came a month after hundreds of hungry workers awaiting free food being distributed by donors (members of civil society) were chased away from Khullamanch in Tundikhel on Constitution Day just so the prime minister, president, and a few other ministers could hold a grand function in the premises.

In September, Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya, who tested positive for COVID-19 on August 31, stayed in isolation at the five-star Soaltee Crown Plaza hotel with his family. Shakya reportedly paid more than Rs 25,000 daily as he had availed medical facilities in his room.

According to sources, three rooms and medical facilities taken by Mayor Shakya’s family cost an average of Rs 75,000 a day and Shakya’s hotel expenses amounted to around Rs 900,000 during his 12-days stay.

Shakya had announced on August 10 that integrated isolation centers to accommodate 5,000 people will soon be built in the capital city, his commitment yet to be materialized and no questions asked.

Meanwhile, officers of Nepal Police, Nepal Army, and Armed Police Force have been barred from taking festival leave and allowance, except for emergency purposes, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the ones working round the clock, round the year, in the frontline.

Similarly, distribution of social security allowance for single women below 60 years of age and severely disabled people is hanging in uncertainty as an amendment bill to the social security law is yet to be endorsed by the Parliament.

The government usually distributes social security allowance before the Dashain festival, but the amendment bill was not passed through the budget session of Parliament and the government has been in a long rest after parliamentary sessions were prorogued in the first week of April.

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said it was improper of lawmakers to accept Dashain allowance when people were dying of hunger and a large number of work force had lost jobs and businesses had closed in the face of the pandemic.

Shrestha said he had raised the issue in the Upper House, but the House did not take a call on the issue.