Rampur Municipality has millions in unaccounted expense of COVID-19-related programs
March 24, 2021 11:30 AM NPT
By: BP Aryal
RAMPUR, March 24: Rampur Municipality in Palpa allocated a total of 21.5 million rupees for COVID-19 response activities in the last and current fiscal year. However, the municipality is yet to submit its report to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA).
Records of Rampur Municipality shows that a total of 1,223 people were kept in quarantine in the last fiscal year. A total of 226 people tested COVID-19 positive and 997 tested negative. The municipality shut down all 24 quarantine centers and a 50-bed isolation center in July 2020.
The municipality disbursed 10 million rupees to manage activities in the last fiscal year and the federal government provided 1.5 million rupees for the local body. Similarly, the municipality allocated 10 million rupees in the current fiscal year, according to the Accounts Section of the municipality. Additionally, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers disbursed one million rupees to each of the 753 municipalities across the country, according to the Prime Minister’s Office in Kathmandu.
The municipality officials expressed qualms over the appointment of COVID-19 response teams, who are not from the municipal officials. Giri Raj Ghimire, chief of the Health Division at the municipality, said that they are not aware about funds and expenses. “There are separate committees, excluding municipal officials, to manage COVID-19 funds,” he added.
Though the isolation center was coordinated by executive officer Rishi Ram Acharya, secretary was non-official-- Kapil Khand. Executive officer Acharya, who is already transferred, wanted to take a different post due to undue pressure from the elected representatives to support them in irregular activities, according to sources.
Likewise, chairperson of the quarantine management was Himal Malla, a Nepali Congress party worker.
While asked about the expenses, Khand admitted that they did not submit the expenses and budget reports to the ministry. Khand further said that the Accounts Section should provide the details of the expenses.
According to the Accounts Section officials, they received 15.8 million rupees, including government grants and donations from individuals and organizations in the last fiscal year. Of this total fund, 15.6 million was shown as expenses under different titles. 7.2 million rupees was disbursed from the municipality in the last fiscal year, according to the records of the municipality.
The officials said that they spent about 500,000 rupees from the total fund of 10 million rupees in the current fiscal year. The expenses include distribution of masks, sanitizers and gloves, according to officials.
Bishnu Devi Ghimire Acharya, deputy mayor and chief of the Municipal Justice Bench, said that the report was not submitted to the ministry due to the involvement of non-municipal staff in quarantine and isolation managements. “We will look into the issue soon,” she claimed.