Dipesh Shrestha/Republica Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and officials, including Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi, National Planning Commission Vice Chairman Min Bahadur Shrestha, attend the Mid-Term Review of the budget for Fiscal Year 2016/17 at the Ministry of Finance in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu on Tuesday.
KATHMANDU, Jan 31: Secretaries of different ministries have said that the budgetary process should be reviewed.
Speaking at the Mid-Term Review of expenses of in the current fiscal year organized by the Ministry of Finance, they complained that the ad hocism in the budget making process was the reason behind low development spending.
Blaming the low expenditure to unnecessary projects in the budget under their respective ministries, some of the secretaries even complained that they projects were included in the budget without consulting with them.
Speaking at the meeting, Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi said that the progress in national pride projects have been very unsatisfactory. “Even the crucial projects that are expected to give dividends to the national economy in the long run have seen either no capital spending or very low,” he said, asking the secretaries of the key ministries that handle the big ticket projects to either surrender the unspent budget or expedite spending. "The ministries that have failed to spend on national pride projects should surrender the budget to the projects that have reported better performance."
Most of the secretaries blamed the delayed approval and authorization of the program for low spending, though the National Planning Commission (NPC) and Ministry of Finance claim that they have given the approval and authorization on the very first day of the fiscal year.
NPC Vice Chairman Min Bahadur Shrestha said that the commission was trying to simplify the approval process. "In the next budget, we are planning to scrap the rule of approval and authorization of programs," he said, adding that once the program is published in the Red Book, it is supposed to be approved and authorized. "However, the process of allocating the budget to projects will be more stringent," he added.
For the current fiscal year, NPC is focusing more on increasing capital spending. Shrestha also said that the unspent budget will be transferred to other projects that are doing better. "In a country like Nepal, where there is resource crunch, we cannot let huge resource of around Rs 200 billion to Rs 300 billion lie unspent," Shrestha said, linking the current credit crunch from supply-side to the failure of the budget spending by various ministries. "Currently, there is some Rs 230 billion in the government treasury."
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, on the occasion, asked the secretaries to expedite budget implementation. "We have to find a breakthrough somewhere, and it is the right time," he said, accepting that there is a flaw in the budgetary system.