KATHMANDU, September 12: The government, despite its commitment to give respite to the COVID-battered economy, has introduced pork barrel programs for the pandemic-hit sectors by allocating large amounts of funds on distributive headings.
Through the substitution bill, the government has reduced the size of the annual budget by Rs 14.74 billion than the amount announced by the KP Oli-led government through the ordinance budget. In the new budget amount worth Rs 1.63 trillion, the government has downsized the regular expenditure by Rs 620 million and the fund allocated for financial management has been reduced by Rs 18.35 billion.
While the government has marginally revised the unproductive expenditure, it has failed to check the distributive budget. Under its new programs, the government will be providing 500,000 households (deprived groups) that have been depending on informal sector jobs and those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, with a grant of Rs 10,000 per household by mid October. Similarly, a person with transplanted kidneys, cancer patients and spinal injury patients will be provided with a subsidy of Rs 5,000 on their medical treatment, reads the substitution bill.
Citing the need to reduce unproductive spending, the government has curtailed the budget by 10 percent for the funds allocation under headings of meeting allowance, fuel, training expenses, monitoring and evaluation cost, travel allowance and miscellaneous. The government has announced to spend the amount saved out of the revised regular expenditure from this section that amounts to Rs 5 billion in procurement of the vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the aim to reduce the debt burden of the country, the government has targeted to reduce public borrowing by Rs 37 billion - Rs 26.20 billion in foreign loans and Rs 11 billion domestic debt. Similarly, the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government will be reducing the foreign grants by Rs 3.45 billion for the current fiscal year.
At a time when the government has been struggling every year to spend adequate amounts on development projects and almost two months have passed to implement the budget this year, the government seems to be more ambitious in this section. Through the substitution bill, the government has raised the size of the capital expenditure by Rs 3.84 billion to Rs 378.10 billion.