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Project selection process hindered in provinces with Centre tight-lipped on its schemes

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

May 18, 2019-

Provincial government officials have said they are unable to decide the projects to be implemented by them in the new fiscal year as the federal government remains tight-lipped on the projects it would implement in the provinces.

As per the constitution, the federal government presents the budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 on Jestha 15 (May 29). The provincial governments should present their own budgets by Asar 1 (June 16) and local governments have to present their fiscal estimates by Asar 10 (June 25) as per the Act Made to Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangement.

Provincial officials said they would have to wait until the federal government presents the budget to select the projects to be implemented by them so as to avoid duplication.

This, however, makes it challenging for them to prepare for the budget to be readied by June 16, they argue.

“Although we have a lot of projects under consideration, we cannot select them until the federal government presents its budget on May 29,” said Jhapat Bohora, the minister for economic affairs and planning of the Sudurpaschim Province. “There is the tradition of keeping budget documents secrete until their unveiling. So we have to wait for the federal budget to decide on the projects we will implement.”

The national pride projects and the projects that have links with more than one provinces come under the jurisdictions of the central government. But, in many cases, the centre has been occupying smaller projects, which could be implemented by the province and the local governments as well.

The provincial officials said they could prepare well for the projects to be implemented by the provinces provided that they are notified about the projects to be implemented by the centre within a province.

“There is still confusion about the projects to be implemented by each layer of the government,” said Khimlal Devkota, vice-chairman of the Policy Commission in Province 3.

“As we don’t know which projects the Centre is implementing in our province, our preparations for the budget have been badly affected.”

He said they have repeatedly sought information which projects the Centre would be implementing in Province 3 but had not got any response.

Although Kathmandu is supposed to implement the projects concerning two or more provinces, there is no clear demarcation of other projects implemented within a province, according to provincial officials.

“For example, the Centre is supposed to look into large hydropower projects within the province but there is no clarity on how big hydropower projects would be overseen by the province,” said Santa Bahadur Sunar, secretary at the Economic Affairs Ministry of Karnali Province.

“So there remains the chance of duplication during the preparatory period. If there is clear demarcation of jurisdiction of the central, provincial and local governments regarding the projects, the budgetary preparations would be easier,” he said.

Despite this situation, the provinces have been making preparations for their own provinces by setting the deadline for each task. They are however presuming the projects to be received from the Centre and the budget’s size.

For example, Province 1 has set a timeline for its secretaries to send the budget and programmes to be implemented by May 29, when the federal government presents the budget.

“There will be changes in the programmes and budget of the province once the federal budget is presented,” said Province 1 Economic Affairs Secretary Jeewan Prakash Sitaula.

Published: 18-05-2019 08:06

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