KATHMANDU, Nov 7: Ministry of Finance has transferred a total of Rs 9.19 billion from one budget heading to another in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2017/10.
Finance ministry officials said that the fund has been transferred from miscellaneous heading to other purposes like providing financial support to different individuals and institutions. The ministry has disbursed Rs 418 million by changing spending headings to the Nepal Army to purchase a helicopter. Similarly, Rs 116 million has been given to the Election Commission for buying luxurious cars to commissioners of the Election Commission, according to budget transfer records posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance.
The ministry transferred a total of Rs 8.34 billion to contingency spending heading, including Rs 5 billion for the Election Commission told hold parliamentary and provincial elections. Similarly, Rs 98.55 million has been distributed to provide financial support to different individuals and institutions. But the purpose of such support is not stated clearly except in few cases.
The finance ministry has transferred Rs 1 million to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation for providing financial support to organizing a conference named 'Adhyatmik Sanskriti and Bigyan' and Rs 15 million to Chandra Narayan Memorial Maternity Hospital, Siraha, to purchase equipment. Likewise, Rs 5 million has been transferred to pay medical bills of former president Ram Baran Yadav in the USA.
Likewise, the government has transferred Rs 11.2 million to the Ministry of Home Affairs for distributing the amount to 11 persons of different Tarai districts. But the reason is not stated in the report.
Finance minister and officials of the MoF often make decision for such budget transfer and they are allowed to do so based on rationality. But officials of Office of the Auditor General (OAG) say that not all such transfers are rationale, indicating that the ministry is using more discretionary authority while spending taxpayers' money.
“Spending by means of budget transfer cannot be justified except for urgent cases,” Deputy Auditor General Ramu Prasad Dotel told Rupublica. “Haphazard spending in this way clearly means that the parliament has been bypassed. The ministry could have easily inserted such spending the budget,” added Dotel.
Dotel said that decisions to transfer budget for providing financial support to individuals and institutions, purchasing vehicles for commissioners of the Election Commission, and buying helicopter for Nepal Army cannot be justified.
Lack of accountability in budget transfer is one of key findings in OAG's Annual Report of 2015/16 unveiled in April.
Existing law permits budget transfer of only 10 percent for each agency and ministries within the ministry. But an analysis of the budget transfer of 26 agencies, including several ministries, made by the OAG shows that such transfers average at 29.67 percent of the budgetary allocations of concerned ministry in FY 2015/16.
"The growing trend of budget transfer has made mockery of the budget and programs endorsed by the parliament. Such transfers, as past trend shows, increase toward the end of fiscal year, particularly to show artificial progress in spending budget,” added Dotel.