KATHMANDU, June 29: The government has sped up ‘Asare Bikas’-- the year-end rush to exhaust the money allocated for development projects -- in a bid to save it from potential criticisms that it was unable to make enough capital expenditure.
The record maintained by the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO) shows that the government has been making expenses of around Rs 1.20 billion daily in the past two weeks when the current fiscal year is fast coming to an end. According to the FCGO, the government has spent Rs 15.28 billion in the period since mid-June while the capital expenditure in eleven and a half months of the current fiscal year was only Rs 143 billion.
As a result of the ‘eleventh hour’ rush in the expenses, the capital expenditure has escalated to 44.88 percent. The capital expenditure as of the third quarter (mid-April) this year was only 30 percent.
The government’s unproductive spending can now be seen in a number of locations in the valley where the authorities are found digging up and blacktopping the roads unnecessarily. “Blacktopping the roads which are already in good condition is just a complete waste of the state fund in the name of development,” Kumar Shrestha, a resident of Naxal, Kathmandu, told Republica. Last week, the government authority carried out the ‘road maintenance’ in the area.
Almost every year, the government is found speeding up the capital expenditure in the last quarter of the fiscal year through transferring funds by creating new budgetary headings. As an instance, according to the 56th annual report of the Office of the Auditor General, government agencies spent Rs 222.83 billion during mid June-mid July of 2017-18.
Although a provision has been made through the constitution to allow the government to announce the budget statement one and a half months in advance, the government has routinely been falling short of the target when it comes to capital expenditure. Such expenses made in the construction works raises questions about the quality of such infrastructures built in a rush, experts say.
Keshab Acharya, former economic adviser to the Finance Ministry, said the large budget transfers and last hour expenditure could affect the fiscal discipline in the government’s budgetary system. He said that the prevailing practice of spending in development works raises questions about the efficiency of the financial administration run by the government.