Federal and provincial governments allocate Rs 17.35 billion for ‘unproductive’ constituencies development programs

Published On: June 22, 2023 08:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

While federal government will provide Rs 50 million and provincial government will provide up to Rs 46.66 million to each MP for miniscule projects.

KATHMANDU, June 22: While the federal government is facing a massive shortfall in revenue collection and the sub-national governments are under pressure on their declining treasury balance, they have allocated a total of Rs 17.35 billion on unproductive expenses to be done by lawmakers.

The federal government and seven provincial governments through the budget for the fiscal year 2023/24 will be spending the huge amounts in mini projects fixed by the lawmakers. While the federal government will be distributing Rs 8.25 billion at the rate of Rs 50 million per Member of Parliament (MP), the seven provincial governments have set aside over Rs 9 billion under the controversial program.

The seven provinces will be providing each of their lawmakers with the amount between Rs 12.5 million to Rs 46.66 million for their projects. On Friday, the provincial governments announced their budget for the next fiscal year.

Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat has revived the controversial parliamentary development fund in the name of 'Parliamentary Infrastructure Development Program'. Previously, the then Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel had removed the amount given under the heading from the budget for the Fiscal Year 2022/23.

Minister Mahat has allocated Rs 8.25 billion for 165 MPs of the central government. A single MP has to select a project with an investment of up to Rs 10 million. Likewise, 365 MPs at the provincial level will select projects of their choices.

Although the allocated budget is meant to be spent on infrastructure projects related to roads, irrigation, drinking water, education, health, tourism, sports and socioeconomic transformation, there is no clear guideline on how the amount will be spent in a meaningful manner.

Under the heading, the Koshi Province will be providing Rs 26.78 million to each of 56 MPs. Madhesh Province has allocated Rs 36.71 million to each of 64 MPs and Bagmati Province has set aside Rs 23.33 million to each of 66 MPs.

Similarly, each of 36 MPs of Gandaki Province will receive Rs 20 million. Lumbini Province will be distributing Rs 12.50 million to each of 52 MPs elected through electoral system and Rs 7.5 million to each of 35 MPs elected through proportional representation system. Each of 24 MPs of Karnali Province will receive Rs 46.66 million and each of 32 MPs of Sudurpashchim Province will receive Rs 30 million.

The concept of 'Infrastructure Development Fund' was started when late Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala was the prime minister. The fund was later renamed 'Parliamentary Development Fund' and 'Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Program'.

Under this program, the budget is allocated directly to each lawmaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) elected under the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system. But there is a growing concern that the budget was distributed among party workers in the name of development and grossly misused.

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