Secys vow to improve spending by expediting development projects

Published On: December 20, 2019 09:47 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, Dec 20: Admitting that the progress in implementation of development projects has not been satisfactory in the first four months of the current fiscal year – FY2019/20, secretaries of major ministries with the highest capital budgets have vowed to improve the performance in remaining two quadrimesters.

Speaking at a meeting of the Finance Committee of the federal parliament on Thursday, they reiterated the problems that have hindered the implementation of the budget, particularly development projects. 

The Finance Committee summoned the Minister for Finance, secretaries of major ministries and other officials to discuss budget implementation amid dismal progress report on capital expenditure.

According to data of Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO), total expenditure as on Wednesday stands at 20.17%, or Rs 309.19 billion, of the total budget. The government introduced a budget of Rs 1,532.97 billion for FY2019/20. However, it managed to spend only 9.25%, or Rs 38.2 billion, of the total capital budget of Rs 408 billion. 

Speaking at the meeting, members of the parliament expressed concerns over slow progress in implementation of the capital budget. 

“Last year also, we had organized similar meeting and issued directive to boost the spending. It’s unfortunate that we are holding discussion on the same issue once again,” Krishna Prasad Dahal, the chairperson of the Finance Committee, said.

“The data shows that progress in spending has worsened instead of improvement. If this trend continues, it could create frustration among the public,” he added.

However, secretaries of various ministries said poor preparation and contract management system, land acquisition problem, and lack of skilled staff and mechanism led to low spending of development budget.

“Capital expenditure of our ministry is low, but it’s not frustrating. The first four months were used for preparation for the contract. Now, the basis for the expenditure has been created. The spending target will be met in the remaining months,” Devendra Karki, secretary at the Ministry of Physical, Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), argued.

Out of the Rs 100.44 billion allocated for the MoPIT, the ministry has achieved only 10% spending progress so far, according to Karki.

While the recent relaxation on environmental impact assessment (EIA) and initial environmental examination (IEE) have been easier for development projects, they are still causing delays, he added.

Secretary at the Ministry of Water Supply, Madhav Belbase, said under-staffing in projects implemented by the ministry in the aftermath of the integration of technical employees under federal set-up has made it difficult to implement the budget. He also said that there should be lower allocation in the first quadrimester. 

“The allocation is high because we have to make preparation for development projects in the first few months, and there is also lengthy holiday for major festivals,” said Belbase, adding that initiatives of the ministry like hiring temporary technical staff and regular monitoring of project progress will ensure in achieving the spending target in the upcoming months.

Rabindra Nath Shrestha, secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, said that the lack of division offices for some projects has hindered the progress in implementing development budget. 

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