KATHMANDU, May 28: Despite criticism from various quarters, the government has given continuity to the Local Infrastructure Development Program (LIDP), previously known as the Constituency Development Fund.
Presenting the budget for fiscal year 2020/21, Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada announced that he has allocated Rs 6.6 billion for the program. Each of the 240 electoral constituencies will now receive Rs 40 million under the program.
The budget allocated for the LIDP is Rs 3.3 billion less than what was earmarked in the previous fiscal year.
The LIDP, which is commonly known as the constituency development fund, has drawn widespread criticism for the pork-barrel spending. The program has been given continuity despite the fact that the main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), earlier demanded the suspension of the budget under this heading.
A special committee formed by the NC earlier said that it is appropriate to either readjust or suspend the LIDP. Terming the program ‘controversial’, the special committee led by its central working committee member Ram Sharan Mahat concluded that the program should be either suspended or readjusted as part of the restructuring of public expenditure.
In fiscal year 2019/2020, the government had allocated Rs 9.9 billion under this program to provide Rs 60 million to each constituency whereby every lawmaker received direct funding for the development of their constituency.
The program has been criticized by various sectors not only due to its distributive nature with questions about its economic returns but also due to the rampant misuse of the money due to the lack of proper monitoring.