Print Edition - 2015-08-10 | MONEY
Ministries table schemes at House sans NPC nod
- While ministries say NPC delayed approval, the latter terms programmes ‘unbalanced’
Aug 10, 2015-In what appears to be a power struggle between ministries and the National Planning Commission (NPC), the former have started to table
The Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR) and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) have tabled their programmes and projects at the House for discussion, inviting criticism from NPC officials.
Officials at both the ministries said they were forced to table the programmes at the Parliament due to consistent demand from lawmakers
amid delay in approval by
the NPC. On the other hand, NPC officials said could not approve the programmes instantly as the schemes were “not balanced”.
The MoFALD is of the
view it does not need to get each of its activities approved by the NPC because the
district council has the authority to do so as per the Local Self-Governance Act 1999. However, the NPC says it has been authorised authority to look into all the ministry programmes.
MoPR Officiating Secretary Bhim Prasad Upadhyaya said the ministry tabled its district-based programmes at the Parliament after it was ordered to do so at the earliest by the House. “We have are ready to incorporate the NPC’s concerns during the approval process,” he said, adding the tabled programmes had already been discussed among the MoPR, NPC and the Finance Ministry before budget presentation.
However, the NPC officials said they had to reject
many projects included in
the last hour as they were “unbalanced and “Kathmandu-centric”.
“How can you justify the inclusion of 170 new projects in Kathmandu under the Development for Peace heading when Bojpur and Panchthar did not not get a single project?” asked NPC member Bimala Rai.
She said most of the projects included in Kathmandu are activities related to memorials of certain political leaders and sewages-related schemes which could be included in programmes of the Urban Development Ministry.
“The Development for Peace Programme was initiated to deliver development in remote places to avoid any future conflict, but Kathmandu, which is not a conflict-affected zone, got the highest number of projects, which is unjustified and unbalanced,” said Rai.
The new and ongoing projects under the Development for Peace heading have
been categorised on district-wise basis.
But the shames under the Reconstruction have not been categorised in that manner, making it impossible for the NPC to evaluate them, the NPC officials said. “So we asked the MoPR to categorise all the programme and projects on district-wise basis,” said Rai.
The MoPR has its own complain. It says the software system—Line Ministry Budget Information System (LMBIS)—does not allow district-wise categorisation and that it had to work manually to prepare the document.
The ministry said the
government has allocated Rs500 million under Development for Peace
heading while an additional Rs1.5 billion under the Reconstruction heading.
Meanwhile, the MoFALD has said if the NPC does not decide on approving programmes forwarded to it, it would be considered the NPC’s okay. “As per the Local Self Governance Act, it not necessary for programmes that are to be implemented through local bodies to be approved by the NPC,” said Purna Chandra Bhattarai, spokesperson for the MoFALD.
As per clause 118 of the Act, the task of the district council has been defined as to pass the budget, plans and programmes submitted by the District Development Committee. The law has also allowed the council to approve the district-level subject-wise programmes to be operated in the district. “Not following the Act’s provision is not giving the rights to the local government,” said Bhattarai.
The ministry, however, has said the NPC has been asking it to include around 1,700 projects beyond those approved by district councils.
However, Prem Dangal, another NPC member who oversees the MoFALD, said the existing law has given the rights to the NPC to see whether the projects have been selected as per the national priority and in a balanced way.
“The NPC’s approval is a must for any programme to be implemented through the government’s resources and it is not appropriate to discuss the programmes in Parliament without the NPC approval,” said Dangal. “The projects not approved by the NPC won’t get the budget.”
The government has
allotted around Rs100 billion for district-based projects.
The dispute is likely to hit
the implementation of the
programmes and projects although the government
has declared this fiscal year
as “Budget Implementation Year”.
Published: 10-08-2015 14:15