Print Edition - 2014-08-12 | MONEY
Ministries yet to get projects okayed
Aug 11, 2014-Ministries having a large number of development projects have yet to get all their programmes and projects approved by National Planning Commission (NPC). This is expected to delay other processes, including tender calling, awarding and construction, possibly resulting in low capital expenditure.
According to NPC officials, only a few ministries have so far sent their projects for approval. Moreover, the number of programmes sent for approval is “very less”.
While sending authorisation letters to ministries for budget implementation on the next day of the budget presentation, the Finance Ministry had asked the ministries to get their programmes and projects approved by August 10. However, the ministries have failed to do so.
Considering the longer procedures the ministries have to go through to get details about projects from the local level, the Finance Ministry had given them 25 days for the job against 15 days in previous years. NPC Joint Secretary Gopi Nath Mainali said major development ministries have sent around 5-7 percent of first priority (P1) projects so far for approval.
“We are making a follow up with the ministries asking them to send the programmes and projects for approval at the earliest,” he said. “We will see the progress this week and if they continue to fail to send projects for approval, we will invite secretaries and departmental joint secretaries of the concerned ministries to discuss the matter.”
Mainali said they have received 5-7 projects related to roads, 1 project related to energy, 7 percent related to industries, another 7 percent related to commerce. However, none has come from the urban development ministry, he added.
All the P1 projects should be approved by the NPC before spending budget on them. There are total of 339 P1 projects out of 491 projects, according to the NPC.
Another joint secretary at NPC Puspa Lal Shakya said the commission has not received projects from Agriculture Development Ministry, Local Development Ministry and Forest Ministry. “We have received 2-3 projects from Irrigation Ministry, while the Ministry of Land Reforms and Management is probably the only ministry that has sent all its programmes and projects for approval,” he said.
However, development ministries say it is difficult to get all the projects approved within the 25 days. Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, said due to a large number of projects which have to come from districts, it is difficult to get them approved in 25 days. “Some P1 programmes have to be divided into different projects as the budget has been allocated under a single heading,” he said.
Sitaula, however, said they were making efforts to get all the P1 projects approved by mid-August. “We will approve P2 projects by August-end,” he said.
Ministries themselves can approve P2 and P3 projects.
Although the ministries have their own complaints, former Finance Secretary Rameshore Khanal blamed “under-preparation” of the ministries before the budget preparation for the delay in getting projects approved.
“The Finance Ministry asks other ministries to come up with purchase plan and implementation action plan before the budget presentation, but they rarely do so even though the preparation for the budget begins as early as December,” said Khanal.
“The minister of the concerned ministry should take initiative for early preparation, but rarely any minister takes interest in project preparation. Their main focus remains on transfer of employees and promotion.”
Khanal said he has suggested the Finance Ministry to make two reforms in the budgetary process—allowing the ministries to authorise projects to spend the budget directly instead of going through several layers such as department, regional and district office, and making a provision that the budget will return back to the Finance Ministry if the ministries fail to authorise projects within a week from the budget presentation.
In last fiscal year, only Rs 63 billion of Rs 85 billion capital budget was spent, according to the Finance Ministry. Capital expenditure has been in the range of 70-80 percent over the last few years.
Published: 12-08-2014 09:49