Despite poor spending, ministries seek Rs 45 billion more for programs not featured in budget speech
KATHMANDU, Nov 20: Despite failure to boost spending of allocated budget, most of the ministries have been demanding billions of rupees in off-budget funding from the Ministry for Finance (MoF).
According to the MoF, various ministries have demanded a total of Rs 45 billion in off-budgetary fund even before the end of the first trimester of current Fiscal Year 2018/19.
These ministries, who have been demanding huge resources to finance programs and projects that do not feature in the budget speech for the current fiscal year, have made little progress in spending capital budget allocated to them.
The data from the Financial Comptroller General Office shows that the total capital expenditure stands at only 9.61 percent of the allocated budget of Rs 335.18 billion as of November 18.
However, the MoF says that it is already overwhelmed with requests for budget of Rs 44.75 billion from various ministries in the last four months of the current fiscal year.
The trend of seeking off-budgetary support despite weak progress of capital expenditure has riled lawmakers too.
Speaking at the meeting of the Finance Committee of the Federal Parliament on Monday, they came down heavily on the government for the failure to increase development spending.
“Many ministries have not spent the budget for development projects allocated to them. But they are asking for additional fund for other projects or programs under various pretexts. This is really a serious recurring problem,” said Surendra Pandey, a member of the Finance Committee, calling for ending such trend including spending development budget at the last month of fiscal year.
Bishnu Poudel, another member of the committee, echoed the sentiment.
“It’s not that every demand of off-budgetary fund is wrong. But, the rationale behind such demand should be proved. Otherwise, we should question the motive of off-budget demand,” said Poudel, who is also a former Finance Minister. “This anomaly must come to an end,” he added.
Finance Secretary Rajan Khanal said that his ministry has been putting pressure on other ministries to spend their own budget rather than seeking funds on other projects.
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) are the major ministries seeking off-budgetary support from the MoF despite poor spending performance.
Among them, MoALD has sought the highest amount of Rs 12.49 billion in off-budgetary support even when it has spent only 14 percent of its capital budget allocated to it. MoUD is asking Rs 7.5 billion of additional fund from the MoF while Ministry of General Administration wants Rs 1.65 billion in off-budgetary fund, according to the MoF.