National

Provinces blame Kathmandu for dismal spending

  • The combined budget of the seven provinces is Rs113.43 billion while their total spending remains Rs2.36 billion as of December 5
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Dec 9, 2018-

The federal government’s delay in handing over the key institutions and deputing the required number of civil servants has hit the provincial governments’ ability to spend.

In the first five months of the current fiscal year, the provincial governments have spent only two percent of their budget on an average.

The combined budget of all the seven provinces for the current fiscal year is Rs113.43 billion whereas their combined spending stood at Rs2.36 billion as of December 5. This shows that budget utilisation of the provinces is much below the federal government’s. Singha Durbar spent 20.91 percent of its total budget in the same period, according to the federal finance ministry.

The dismal spending by provincial governments comes at a time when the federal government itself is criticised for its poor spending. Provincial governments, however, blame Kathmandu for the poor implementation of the budget.

“The failure of the federal government to depute necessary staff to the provinces and the frequent transfers of officials at the provinces, particularly the secretaries, are the main reasons behind the poor spending,” said Province-2 Finance Minister Bijaya Kumar Yadav. “How can budget be implemented without the bureaucracy?”

According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, only around 12,900 civil servants have been mobilised at the provinces against the need for 21,000.

“We have been unable to send enough staff to the provinces due to the lack of enough numbers at the Centre for mobilisation at the provinces and the local level,” said Suresh Adhikari, spokesperson for the Federal Affairs Ministry.

The status of capital expenditure in the provinces is even poorer. In the given period, Province 1, Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces failed to spend a single rupee of the capital budget. The Karnali Province has an annual budget of Rs28.28 billion, Rs20.76 billion of which is for infrastructure.

The Sudurpaschim Province presented a budget of Rs25.06 billion, setting aside Rs11.71 billion under capital expenditure. In Province 1, the annual budget is Rs35.93 billion—Rs18.5 billion for capital expenditure. Officials in the provinces blame the lack of human resource, particularly technical workers, as well as the administrative apparatus.

Officials at the federal government also take their share of the blame for the dismal spending. “The lack of adequate staff has affected budget execution,” said Revenue Secretary Sishir Dhungana.

Besides, construction works in around 1,100 regional road projects have been halted for more than a month as they have not been handed over to the provinces. These projects with a combined contract amount of Rs26 billion are in different stages of development. As of December 3, only one project—the Seti Highway—was handed over to the Sudurpaschim Province, according to the Department of Roads.

Many offices related to the Physical Infrastructure and Urban Development Ministry have yet to come under provincial governments as per the work division, according to Adhikari.

“Even the conditional grants allotted to the provinces for specified projects have not been spent,” said Dhungana.

Published: 09-12-2018 07:16

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