SURKHET, June 10: With the fiscal year nearing end, Karnali Province has courted controversy for its decision to purchase 54 four-wheelers by transferring over Rs 2 billion from the development budget.
The provincial government has already bought 42 four-wheelers and is planning to buy 12 more.
The provincial government has been severely criticized from all quarters for wasting billions of rupees from the state coffers even though it had adequate number of vehicles for its day-to-day operations.
Instead of using the development budget for its intended purpose like construction of infrastructures and for the development of the agriculture sector, the province used a large amount of budget to purchase new vehicles.
So far, the province has spent just 7.37 percent of the development budget.
According to the Provincial Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning, all seven ministries of the province, provincial secretariat and the office of the chief attorney have transferred a total budget of Rs 2.3 billion by May 29 to purchase the vehicles.
All the ministries have purchased vehicles from the transferred money. The Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Co-operative of the province transferred a total of Rs 449 million from the development head to the recurrent budget just before the expiry of the current fiscal year. The ministry has initiated the process to purchase vehicles worth Rs 34 million from the transferred amount.
“Initially, the ministry had allocated only Rs 11.5 million for purchasing vehicles,” said one of the civil servants of the province, adding, “As the development budget distributed to districts seemed unlikely to be spent, the ministry decided to spend Rs 34 million on four-wheelers.”
The budget was actually meant for the construction of the ministry’s building, canteen, organic farm and research center as well as for various other projects for the development of agriculture, animal husbandry and co-operatives. The ministry has already purchased four vehicles and preparations are underway to buy additional vehicles for the minister, secretary and some other officials.
Similarly, the Ministry of Social Development has transferred Rs 207 million to its recurrent expenditure this fiscal year. Out of the total transferred amount, it spent Rs 7 million on purchasing a Scorpio jeep and Rs 4 million on another four-wheeler.
The provincial government has also started the process to purchase 10 ambulances for the 10 districts of the province. While forwarding the process, it has ignored the fact that some of the villages in districts like Humla and Dolpa are yet to be connected to the road network. More than Rs 150 million will be spent on buying the ambulances.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development has purchased 16 vehicles so far. The ministry purchased a Tata Storm worth Rs 7 million for the minister and 12 Bolero jeeps for various offices. A total budget of Rs 35 million was spent on these vehicles.
Moreover, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law purchased 16 vehicles this fiscal year. Eight of the vehicles are already in use while the tender process for other eight has also been completed. The ministry has sanctioned a total budget of Rs 60 million for vehicles alone.
In addition to that, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Environment purchased three vehicles in the fiscal year 2018/19.
Besides the ministries, the Officer of Chief Minister and Council of Ministers has also initiated the process for purchasing two vehicles, according to Man Bahadur Sunar, accountant of the office.