KATHMANDU, Feb 12: Eighth month of the current fiscal year is beginning on Wednesday. But the federal government is bringing projects, which were earlier handed over to provincial governments, under its ambit.
The cabinet of the federal government is making decision on project transfers on case by case basis. Ministers of provincial governments say there is no defined policy for such transfers. Rather, transfers are being made at the will of politicians and bureaucrats of federal government, they allege.
The decision has upset provincial ministers and executives who say that the move is against the spirit of federal system and decentralization.
Though the federal budget unveiled in May, the government announced New Town Development Projects to be implemented by provincial governments. But the federal government recently brought such projects under the ambit of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction. Likewise, several road projects of medium scale were handed over to provinces through the federal budget. But these projects, including the Rural Connectivity Improvement Project (RCIP), have now been brought under the federal government.
RCIP projects being implemented in Jhapa of Province 1 and Sindhuli of Province 3 have already been brought back under the federal government. Similarly, New Town Development Projects of Basantapur and Phidim of Province 1 will now be implemented by the federal government, according to a recent cabinet decision.
Likewise, Tamor Corridor and Madan Bhandari Marga (Basantapur-Gufapokhari-Dhungesanghu Dovan) road projects of Province 1 have already been back to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport. Another road project, Ganesh Man Singh Marga that connects Thankot with Chitlang in Province 3 has also been brought under the ambit of the federal government, according to recent cabinet decision.
Talking to Republica over telephone, Minister for Financial Affairs and Planning in Province 1, Indra Bahadur Angbo, said that the decision to transfer projects from provincial governments was against the spirit of federalism.
According to an official of Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning in Province 3, several medium scale projects, which were thought to be appropriate for provinces, have now been brought under the federal government. No clear reason has been given behind such transfer, according to the official.
“Several water supply projects, which were allotted to provinces, have also been transferred to divisional offices of Department of Water Supply and the Department of Roads,” the official added.
Minister for Financial Affairs and Planning in Province 3, Kailash Prasad Dhungel, said the bigger problem at the moment is not project transfer for lack of sufficient staffers for project implementation.
“The federal government has not yet complete adjustment of government employees. It seems that provincial governments will not get employees in the current fiscal year,” he lamented.
During inter-governmental council meeting held last month, chief ministers of provinces complained that the federal government has transferred budget but not projects. In the meeting, officials of the central government has assured to handover projects as well. But now it is withdrawing even the projects handed over to provinces.
Shiva Hari Sapkota, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, informed that few projects have been brought under the ministry as per the cabinet decision taken on recommendations of provincial governments. He also added that all the projects were handed over to the provinces immediately after the inter-government council meeting held in December.
The ministry had handed over road projects amounting to Rs 23 billion to provinces and local units through the budget speech.