KATHMANDU, April 18: It has been revealed that four projects under the Ministry of Agricultural, Land Management and Cooperatives having a combined budget of Rs 18.29 billion spent nearly Rs 2 billion for consultation services.
According to the 55th Annual Report of Office of the Auditor General, four projects under the ministry - Project for Agricultural Commercial and Trade (PACT), Kathmandu; Raising Income for Small and Medium Farmers Project, Nepalgunj; Agriculture and Food Security Project, Kathmandu; and Improved Seed for Farmers Program, Butwal - paid Rs 1.91 billion for procurement of consultant services.
“Of the total Rs 18.29 billion, these projects have already spent Rs 13.58 billion, including Rs 4.29 billion in Fiscal Year 2016/17,” the report states.
The OAG has directed the ministry to curb expenses on consultant services. “These projects have been found paying 6.67 percent to 21.84 percent of their total budget for consultant services. This needs to be controlled,” the OAG said in the report.
According to the report, PACT spent 9.53 percent of its budget for consultant service. The total budget of the six-year program is Rs 6 billion. Of the total budget, Rs 1.92 billion was spent in FY2016/17. The project has already spent Rs 5.68 billion. It used Rs 54 million for consultant service.
Similarly, Raising Income for Small and Medium Farmers Project has spent Rs 46 million for consultant service which is 21.84 percent of its total budget. Of the total budget of Rs 2.59 billion, the project has already spent Rs 2.12 billion
Agriculture and Food Security Project has spent Rs 77 million on consultant service which is 20.51 percent of the total budget of the project. The total investment of the project is Rs 4.93 billion. Till now it has spent Rs 3.76 billion.
Likewise, Improved Seed for Farmers Program has spent Rs 13 million on consultant service which is 6.67 percent of its total budget. The total investment of the project is Rs 4.77 billion. It has already spent around Rs 2 billion including Rs 69 million in FY2016/17.
According to the Ministry of Agricultural, Land Management and Cooperatives, consultant service expenses covers spending related to hiring consultant on contract, maintenance of technical equipment, managing official websites and obtaining several advices for the projects.
Talking to Republica, Yogendra Karki, the spokesperson for the agricultural ministry, said that the ministry will study the suggestions made by the OAG and taken needful actions.
“The report does not mean that the ministry is making unnecessary expenditure for consultant service. We are only paying for consultant services needed for the smooth functioning of the projects,” he added.