KATHMANDU, April 4: The Ministry of Finance has asked government agencies to halt expenses in a number of activities, targeting to manage the financial resources in the priority areas due to the impact of COVID-19.
Forwarding a letter to the concerned government offices on Thursday, the ministry has halted the expenses previously allocated on fourteen headings including the consultant fees, employees training charges, programs conduction, capacity building and public awareness related workshops, miscellaneous events, monitoring and evaluation except for the urgent needs and contingent recurrent expenditure.
Similarly, the ministry has also curtailed the expenditures on purchase of automobiles, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, development and purchase of computer software and acquiring the intellectual property, research and consultant fees on acquiring capital goods, compensations for land acquisition and contingent capital expenses to be spent by the government offices. The ministry in this regard has directed the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO) not to disburse the funds under the prescribed headings.
The government has aimed to utilize the funds that will be saved out of the aforementioned headings in prevention and control of coronavirus and other priority sectors. However, the liabilities that the projects have created by Thursday will receive the earmarked budgets, reads the letter issued by the ministry.
According to the officials of the ministry, the government has taken the step as a cautious move to check unwanted expenses with growing pressure on the state's coffer due to the threat of the coronavirus. With the nationwide lockdown that is in place since last two weeks, the economic activities have almost come to a halt. This has affected the revenue collection and the government is compelled to spend huge sum to finance subsidies to various inflicted sectors and purchase logistics related to the health sector.
The FCGO record shows that the government as of Thursday, collected revenue worth Rs 571.81 billion, which is 51.42% of the targeted revenue of Rs 1.11 trillion for this fiscal year. According to the FCGO, the government was able to collect revenue of only Rs 8 billion in two weeks period since the government enforced lockdown on March 24. With almost three months left for the fiscal year to end, the government has to collect Rs 540.32 billion to meet its target, which seems nearly impossible with the heavy downfall in economic activities triggered by the lockdown.
Last Sunday, the government also barred import of luxury cars costing more than Rs 5.5 million, dry fruits like date, clove, small cardamom, peas and alcoholic beverage to avoid possible fall in foreign currency reserves. Similarly, the government has lowered gold import quota to 10 kg a day.