SURKHET, July 25: Locals of various rural municipalities of Surkhet district have been disappointed with the newly elected representatives who have reportedly started using the government sanctioned budget for their personal benefits rather than on development projects.
Though the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) had urged all the local units not to fix the salaries for the new representatives, some rural municipalities have already fixed the salaries while some have submitted proposals to the rural assembly requesting to fix their salaries.
Locals have accused the representatives for misusing their position in order to fulfill their vested interest. Local authorities of Chaukune Rural Municipality have sanctioned a budget of Rs 2 million in order to buy ten motorbikes for the new representatives when the rural municipality does not even have an ambulance service till date. Likewise, the salaries of chairperson and vice chairperson have already been determined. “There are altogether 10 wards in Chaukune and five of the ward chiefs have already got their motorbikes,” said Dhir Bahadur Shahi, chairperson of Chaukune, adding, “So we also finalized the budget for the other five ward chiefs.”
The announcement was made during a rural assembly meeting, two weeks ago. “We are not demanding motorbikes for our comfort but for providing quick service to the people by speeding up the works,” said Shahi.
However, the locals have widely criticized the decision by expressing dissatisfaction on the social media. Kiran BC, a local of the rural municipality who is currently in South Korea for foreign employment, vented his ire through a Facebook status: “Many locals won't have to die in lack of treatment had those Rs 2 million rather been utilized for buying stretchers and ambulance for the patients. We are ready to provide financial help if that money is not enough.”
According to Chairperson Shahi, they are planning to buy ambulances for various health posts. “As the roads are not good, it is difficult to reach the rural areas on time so we thought travelling in motorbikes will be a convenient idea,” he said. He further informed that it is not possible to provide service to the locals by travelling on public vehicles. Even after being criticized by the people, Shahi told Republica that the decision won't be canceled no matter what.
Meanwhile, representatives of Baraha Tal Rural Municipality have fixed their monthly salaries. As per the proposal presented in the first assembly of the rural municipality, salaries has of chairperson has been fixed at Rs 25,000 while the salary of vice chair is Rs 20,000 while Rs 15,000 has been fixed for ward chiefs.
Tej Bahadur Basnet, chairperson of the rural municipality, said, “People's representatives have to spend a lot of money for their rent, travel and other expenses when they have no other source income. So, it will be easier for them if their salaries are fixed.” He further informed that the assembly will make the decision regarding salaries by Wednesday. The total budget of Baraha Rural Municipality is Rs 330 million out of which Rs 2.3 million will be spent on salaries of chairman, deputy chairmen and ward chiefs in a year. Besides that, there will be several other expenses and allowances.