budget-making process

Local units again facing lack of technical hands

Published On: March 5, 2018 03:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Mar 5: Mayor of Chautara Sangachowk Gadhi Municipality, Amansing Tamang, has now realized that budget of Rs 650 million allocated for FY 2017/18 will not bring anticipated outcomes.

The municipality could not invest wisely as the mayor neither had budget preparation skill, nor technical manpower at his disposal to make prepare budget. A large chunk of the municipality's budget went to road projects especially to gravel roads in rural areas. 
Chautara Sangachowk Gadhi Municipality had received Rs 460 million from the central government as grant, while it has set a target of collecting Rs 190 million from local sources.

“Everyone wanted road access to rebuild their houses,” said Tamang who is worried that the investment will not bring desired outcomes.  

Though the central government had made commitment to provide technical staff to help the local units in budget preparation, it did not happen. The municipality has only three officers - one chief executive, and two section officers. This left Tamang with no option but to depend on available staffers who had no prior experience of budget making. 
The case of Tamangkhola Rural Municipality in Baglung district is no different. 

“The central government had made a commitment to send officials with technical know-how in budget-making to help us in budget preparation process. But nobody arrived,” Joglal Budha, chairman of the rural municipality, told Republica over phone. “As a result, we made a mistake by allocating budget of conditional grants in another purpose.

However, we corrected it later on,” added Budha. 

The rural municipality has four officials - a section officer, an accountant and two ward secretaries. 

“We have been told that more staffers will come following adjustment of employees at the central level,” Budha said, adding that limited staff has affected spending capacity of the rural municipality.

Provincial governments have to table their budget by Ashadh 1 (mid-May) - a fortnight after the central government tables the budget on Jestha 15 (May 1). Similarly, local units have to table the budget by the end of May, as per the constitution. 

All 753 local units have to prepare about half a dozen bills including Financial Bill, Bill of Revenue Collection and also Bill of Internal Borrowing. But they lack technical prepare to prepare those crucial documents.

Nirmal Hari Adhikari, chief of budget division of the Ministry of Finance, said that they have received complaints of lack of manpower to prepare budget from almost all local units and few provinces as well. 

The central government has sent undersecretaries with experience of budget making or taxation to provincial governments. But the government does not have any plan of sending employees having budget-making experience in local units and provinces. 

Federalism Expert Khimalal Devkota criticized the government for implementing federalism without providing support to provincial and local governments from the center.

“It is unfortunate that the government has failed to mobilize government staffers to provincial and local governments. At a time when provincial and local governments are facing shortage of staff, the government chose to bow down to demands placed by unions of civil servants by offering them voluntary retirement,” he added.

Devkota said that he had suggested to the government to institute a think-tank at the center for providing technical support to all the local levels. But his suggestions fell on deaf ears.

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