General

Constituency projects to follow old model

  • Lawmakers can execute projects of Rs 1 million in their constituencies
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
Under the new proposal, the budget allocated under the programme will directly go to the account of District Coordination Committee

Aug 8, 2018-The Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Programme (LIDPP) handled by lawmakers would follow the model of its earlier avatar—the controversial Constituency Development Programme (CDP).

The government has proposed lawmakers could execute projects with Rs1 million budget in their constituencies. This gives lawmakers greater control over projects.

Constituency development funds (CDFs) are funding arrangements that channel money from central government directly to electoral constituencies for local infrastructure projects.

Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) is currently drafting a regulation on how to implement the programme. It proposes lawmakers could execute maximum 10 projects. The proposal goes against the budgetary provision for the current fiscal year that states a maximum of five projects. These include roads, potable water, irrigation and river control projects in one constituency.

Amid strong criticism, the KP Oli government scrapped the controversial Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme (CISP) and the Constituency Development Programme (CDP) but introduced similar programme—LIDPP. It allocated funds for lawmakers to execute development activities in their constituencies.

In current fiscal year budget, the government has allocated Rs40 million to each constituency. As per the ministry’s proposal, at least two projects should have a budget of more than Rs5 million while Rs30 million could be spent for eight other projects.

MoFAGA Spokesperson Suresh Adhikari said maximum 10 projects are proposed under this programme. They would be implemented in limited sectors as mentioned in the budget.

“Although the programme looks distributive, the idea of implementing 10 projects is that small projects such as culverts could be constructed with a limited budget under this programme,” said Adhikari.

Under the new proposal, the budget allocated under the programme will directly go the account of District Coordination Committee.  However, the projects will be selected and monitored by a committee comprising Federal Parliament members of that particular constituency, members of province assembly and heads of local level and coordinated by the directly elected member of Representative Assembly.

Although the budget mentions implementing the project in partnership with provincial and local governments, the MoFAGA official said the ministry’s proposal has not talked about incorporating budget allocated for similar programme by the provincial governments. “We have however opened the door for local governments to contribute funds to implement projects under the programme,” said Adhikari.

Former Auditor General Bhanu Acharya said the constituency development programe was distributive by its nature because the interests of lawmakers are associated with it. “You cannot expect investments in solid projects that make significant impact on economic development from under this programme,” he said.

Besides being distributive, it is also discriminatory to the challengers of the lawmakers in the elections with the budget that they could spend to woo voters, according to Acharya. Distributive nature of constituency development programme can also be gauged that several projects with budget less than threshold set by the regulation were also implemented in different districts in the past, according to the Office of Auditor General (OAG). Its special audit report last year revealed that 171 projects, having budget of less than Rs700,000, were implemented in various 10 districts under the CISP in fiscal year 2015-17. At that time, minimum threshold of a budget per project under CISP was Rs700,000 which was later increased to Rs1 million.

Published: 08-08-2018 08:06

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