MPs slam transfer of funds to non-budgetary headings

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 10, 2017-

Lawmakers have expressed concern over the practice of transferring resources to non-budgetary headings saying it will harm financial discipline.

On Thursday, the Finance Ministry informed the parliamentary Finance Committee that more than Rs40 billion had been moved to headings not mentioned in the budget in the first eight months of the current fiscal year. 

Parliamentarians said that spending on non-priority areas had increased the risk of misappropriation of public funds when the government had been able to spend only 20 percent of the capital budget. 

Finance Secretary Santa Raj Subedi defended the government’s move and said that funds had been transferred to needy sectors. “We have transferred money from projects that have not been able to use the allocated budget,” he told Thursday’s meeting. 

According to him, the ministry has moved Rs25 billion for reconstruction purposes. Another Rs1 billion has been transferred for road construction in the Kathmandu Valley and Rs1.50 billion has been released as per requests from various district development committees. 

The Finance Ministry has released non-budgetary funds to buy official vehicles for 80 newly appointed justices and other government offices including the Department of Transport Management, help Sajha Prakashan repay its loans and build roads for the Trishuli 3A hydropower project, he said.

“The government has been spending the money through the Ministry of Local Development and a number of consumers’ committees.”

Likewise, the ministry has released an additional Rs10.34 billion to hold local elections. “We had earmarked Rs20 billion for the polls, but the Election Commission has asked for more money,” he said. 

Lawmakers criticized rampant spending under non-budgetary headings stating that the government failed to spend adequately on national pride projects. 

Former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat said the government had been releasing money to small and non-prioritized projects instead of selected projects that are in the process of awarding contracts. “Such an expenditure pattern close to the end of the fiscal year cannot serve the purpose of financial discipline as there are chances of misappropriation,” he said. 

According to Mahat, the government has provided more than Rs1 billion for 70 small projects in Chitwan, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s hometown, under non-budgetary headings.

Similarly, more than Rs450 million has been disbursed for 113 small projects in Rolpa district that are not included in the budget, he said. 

Former finance minister Surendra Pandey said that the government had failed to maintain financial transparency. “The ministry has been releasing a lot of money in the name of local clubs and communities,” he said. 

Lawmaker Ichchha Raj Tamang accused the Finance Ministry and the National Planning Commission of approving projects without studying their usefulness. “If the government were to assess the priority of projects in the beginning, the trend of transferring funds can be minimized,” he said. 

Lawmaker Om Devi Malla said that the ministry had even disbursed money through non-government organizations under the non-budgetary heading. “This has increased risks of misuse of state funds,” Malla said. 

Published: 10-03-2017 09:32

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