KATHMANDU, Feb 18: The Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) is preparing to start inspection of agriculture-related spending and activities by local levels in coordination with respective provincial governments.
After receiving several reports that agricultural budget was spent in non-agricultural sectors, the ministry is bracing up to investigate the matter.
Shankar Sapkota, joint spokesperson of the ministry, told Republica that the ministry was planning to closely inspect the local levels’ activities to find out the truth about budget implementation.
“After the country has entered into the federal system, we have released agricultural budget to local level governments as per the constitutional provision. However we have been receiving reports about misuse of this budget,” Sapkota said. “So we will look into it.”
A recent survey conducted at 44 local units by National Farmers Group Federation and Nepal Agriculture Journalists Academy has showed that only three percent of the total Rs 13.58 billion received by 44 local units has been spent on agriculture and livestock.
Meanwhile, a recently published bulletin of the ministry has mentioned that only 64 among the 753 local units of seven provinces are implementing block grant programs of the ministry.
According to the bulletin, the ministry has handed over total of Rs 2.18 billion to the local levels in order to establish 1,241 new pocket areas and 128 new blocks. Total 2,100 pocket areas and 150 blocks are already in operation across the country. With the budget allotment, the number of pocket and block areas would be increased to 3,341 and 278, respectively.
However, only 68 local units are operating these programs in their respective areas. As stated by Sapkota, the Ministry of Finance has allocated budget to the local levels under the equalization grant. Under this grant, the local levels are given authority to use the budget on their own as per their need. “This year the finance ministry has allocated equalization grant to the local levels which has created a little bit confusion among local government about utilizing the budget,” Sapkota told Republica.
He further said that local levels needed proper guidance on using their budget. “But in the lack of precise framework for budget implementation, local representatives are confused,” he said, adding, “This is a transitional period and the local representatives are also new. So they need more guidance.”
“We are yet to receive all reports of expenditure by local levels. After that, we will hold discussion with the stakeholders,” Sapkota added.