KATHMANDU, Dec 16: The newly formed local bodies have allocated budget for agriculture and livestock far lower than the local units in the past.
Only three percent of the total 13.58 billion received by 44 local units has been allocated in these sectors, according to a survey carried out on 44 local units of different seven provinces. Even the three percent figure is a sum of budgets for agriculture (2.43 percent) and livestock (0.57 percent).
The survey was conducted by National Farmers Group Federation (NFGF), in association with Nepal Agriculture Journalists Academy (JONNA). A report based on the survey was released on Thursday.
“The main aim of the survey was to check the status of allocation and expenditure of budget in agriculture and livestock sector,” said Uddhav Adhikari, president of NFGF. “Most of the local units have not taken these sectors seriously, while the sectors employ about two-third of the population and contribute to one-third of the national economy.”
“Farmers had expected the recent political changes to give a push to the agriculture and livestock sectors, but the sectors have been underestimated much more than the previous trends,” added Adhikari.
Before the restructuring of the local units, there was a provision that 15 percent of the total budget be compulsorily allocated and mobilized for agriculture and livestock sectors, but now there is no such provision since the local units have been empowered to take decisions on their own.
The new provision of local units for allocation of budget for different sectors seems to have adversely affected the agricultural sector since major chunks of the budget have been allocated for other development works like road and bridge construction.
The findings of the survey reveal that the budget to agriculture and livestock sectors has been allocated without a scientific basis. Thirty-six out of the surveyed 44 local units did not consult with the livestock and agricultural experts before preparing the budget, according to the report.
Seventy-seven percent of the heads in those local units have said that allocation of budget for agricultural sector was difficult. Majority of the heads of the local units cited the lack of clear guidelines for budget allocation as the main reason for difficulty in allocation for budget to agriculture, according to the report.
Moreover, even the budget allocated for agriculture and livestock sectors has been minimally mobilized. Only 29.55 percent of the three percent budget allocated for agriculture and livestock have been mobilized by those 44 local units.
“There needs to be effective invigilation of the mobilization of the budgets received by the local levels,” Adhikari told Republica. “Only having roads and bridges is not development. Local units need to realize that agricultural development is also a part of overall development of the units.”
The report by NFGF and JONNA is probably the first analysis on the budget allocation by the local bodies after elections.