DHANGADHI, July 9: As the current fiscal year nears its end, Sudur Paschim Province has intensified development activities, spending the development budget in a hurry so as to prevent budget-freezing.
The province has been making capital expenditure in the 11th hour by organizing various trainings and programs. Taking their cue from the provincial government, many local units have forwarded development projects in order to spend more than the other local governments. Intensifying development activities at the end of the year is not a new thing in Nepal.
This may help the authorities to increase their spending but leads to substandard and quality-less work at the end. Locals say this also gives rise to corruption and irregularities. "The development carried out under the monsoon rain is only going to encourage corruption," said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a local, adding, "We can't have proper development if the trend of spending the budget in the eleventh hour continues in the upcoming years."
Until June 7, Sudurpaschim Province had spent only 24 per cent of the total budget. But in the one-month period since then, the province has managed to spend an additional 14 per cent of the budget. According to the details provided by the Financial Comptroller's Office (FCO) of Sudurpaschim Province, by June 7, only 24 per cent of the total budget was spent, including 21.1 per cent capital expenditure.
Basudev Joshi, chief of FCO, Dhangadhi, informed Republica that the province has spent around 38.56 per cent of the recurrent budget and 37.98 per cent of the capital budget by June 25. Locals have expressed disappointment over the ongoing pace of development activities which is only going to result in substandard work.
"In order to boost its spending capacity, the provincial government has spent twice for the same road by giving it different names," said Bandhuram Chaudhary, a local, adding, "The province has allocated budget twice for the Musariya-Talbanda road section under two different names."
Not just that, the provincial government has been accused of allocating more budget than actually required by the project.
Seeking anonymity, an official of one of the ministries of the province said, "To spend the budget, projects are being distributed by forming consumers committees in hotel rooms. Preparations are underway to pocket commissions in each project."
For the current fiscal year, Sudur Paschim Province had tabled a budget of Rs 25.6 billion, including Rs 11.7 billion for capital expenditure. While assuming the office, Chief Minister Trilochan Bhatta had assured everyone of stopping the trend of spending the budget in a hurry at the end of the fiscal year. However, he has defended himself saying that he could not do so this fiscal year due to the lack of manpower, and policies and programs.
Though during the budget announcement, the provincial leaders and ministers had bragged about bringing change by introducing interesting programs, none of the important projects have been implemented yet.