June 27, 2019 06:57 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
KATHMANDU, June 27: At least 149 local units have failed to unveil their annual budget within the deadline set by the Local Government Operation Act, according to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA).
According to Section 71 of the law, local governments must table the annual budget at the municipal assemblies by Asar 10 (June 25 this year) after endorsing the estimation of annual income and expenditure from the municipal executive.
According to the federal affairs ministry, out of the total 753 local units, 565 presented their annual budget at their respective municipal assemblies on Tuesday while budget status of 39 local units remains unknown.
“We have received budget updates from 714 local units within office hours on Wednesday. Our records show that 565 local governments have unveiled their budget by Tuesday while 149 have not,” Ministry spokesman Jaynarayan Acharya told Republica.
MoFAGA had issued a circular to all local governments to unveil their budget by June 25 and endorse it within the set deadline. The local government law has made it mandatory to endorse annual budget of local governments from the municipal assembly by end of Asar (usually July 16).
“We are trying to contact the remaining 39 local units for updates on their budgets. The ministry will also instruct the local units that have not unveiled their budget to bring it on time,” Acharya added.
Last year, 25 local units had failed to unveil their annual budget and 40 local units failed to present their policy and program, according to the federal affairs ministry. Over hundred local units had endorsed their budget after the statutory deadline last year.
Dispute between heads of the local governments and other members, dispute over headquarters of the local units and various other factors resulted in the delay or failure in endorsing budges at the local units, according to officials. In the local units that have failed to unveil budgets, the chiefs have been accused of allocating funds arbitrarily. Officials at the CIAA have been publicly saying that the anti graft body has been flooded with complaints of irregularities at local units.
According to the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) expenditures made by the local units without having endorsing such expenditures from the respective municipal assemblies are shown under unsettled accounts. “Local governments should spend their budget only after annual planning and budget allocation. If any local unit is found to be breaching the process, their whole expenditures will be shown under unsettled accounts,” said OAG spokesperson, Bishnu Rijal.
Annual report of the OAG for the last fiscal had found local units’ budget implementation and expenditure were in line with the rules. “We are yet to audit the expenditure of local units for the current fiscal year. The OAG will minutely study the issue,” Rijal added.