End of fiscal year spending results in shoddy work

Published On: June 29, 2018 03:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Rupandehi looks for ways to spend Rs 2 billion in 15 days

RUPANDEHI, June 29: The current fiscal year 2017/18 is ending in 15 days. As the clock ticks, government officials in Rupendehi district are brainstorming ways to spend the unspent Rs 2.17 billion budget before the deadline. Although the country has gone through remarkable changes recently, the traditional mindset of spending the budget in the last minute seems to have withstood the test of time.

With the implementation federalism, Nepal now has three levels of government – local, provincial and central. Many expected federalism to bring overnight development and prosperity to the country. But as long as the old mentality remains deeply rooted, the new system, will not be able to bring the much-awaited change.

“Development budget suffers the same old fate,” acknowledged Mati Prasad Bhusal, chief of District Treasury Controller Office (DTCO), Rupandehi. “The system is all about spending budget at the last moment.”

Local units of the district are rushing to spend development budget, even if it means omitting ‘development’ from it. The local and provincial governments are rushing to finish projects with sole purpose of increasing expenditure rather than achieving development. 

According to the DTCO, a budget of Rs 1 billion was released in the duration of one-and-a-half month, from May 15 to June 27. Whatever of the budget remains, it would be spent in the next 15 days, said DTCO chief Bhusal. “Although the expenditure has improved compared to last year, the last-minute spending remains largely unchanged.”

A total of Rs 6.3 billion was allocated for capital expenditures on projects of Rupandehi district for the fiscal year of 2017/2018. As of now, budget expenditure stands at Rs 4.11 billion. The government offices in the district are looking for ways to spend the remaining budget before it is too late.

Vice-chair of Federal Project Commission, Prakash Kumar Shrestha, said that some of the projects are being delayed due to procedural hindrance. In some cases, he added, budgets are released only in the last moment, which makes it seem like the authorities are rushing due to the last-minute pressure. 

“There are lots of problems in the last-minute spending spree over developmental budget. We have to try to change,” he said. Shrestha further added that the federal government is planning to formulate standard procedure to change the mentality.

According to him, the main problem is that the officials spend too much time to fulfill the procedures. “This leads to many problems, such as less time to complete the projects. Many projects remain incomplete or get delayed due to the same reason..”

Economist RC Acharya said last-minute spending have been resulting in poor quality of work. “For example, blacktopping of the road should not be done around monsoon just before the end of the fiscal year. The carry-over of development budget to the next year could help in changing the mentality,” he said.

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