July 17, 2018 07:12 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, July 17: Despite lofty promises of reining in financial indiscipline and announcement of reforms in project execution, the government made biggest ever single-day payment on Sunday. This indicates the project execution has been done in the eleventh hour with the sole intention to use up the budget before the end of the fiscal year.
All the branch offices of the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO), the government’s payment agency, have paid a total of Rs 33 billion on Sunday, the last day for issuing official bank checks to different parties. The payment is a record for a single day, according to officials of FCGO.
The payment included Rs 27.62 billion for capital spending and Rs 5.83 billion for recurrent spending. The government had paid Rs 17 billion on July 10 including recurrent spending of Rs 10 billion setting new record for recurrent spending.
Concentration of payments toward the end of the fiscal year has long been criticized. Such haphazard spending and payments in haste have raised questions about the quality of the development works.
Ministry of Finance has also repeatedly asked the ministries concerned to process payments immediately after the completion of the assigned work. Critics also say that the payments made in the eleventh hour are also susceptible to corruption.
Parliamentary committees including the Public Accounts Committee and the Office of the Auditor General have long been questioning the practice of spending taxpayers’ money in the eleventh hour and the quality of the public work, which are shoddily executed in most cases. A significant amount of such spendings are also spent without following the due process and legal requirements, according to OAG reports of the recent years. Such payments in the last three days – Sunday, Saturday and Friday – of the current fiscal year totaled over Rs 47 billion. In the last fiscal year, the government had spent Rs 46 billion in the last three days.
FCGO’s information officer Jagannath Devkota acknowledged that their attempts at bringing reforms in spending have been in vain. The spending are made in the eleventh hour in collusion with civil servants, contractors and suppliers and even auditors who examine the spending later.