Only 20 percent budget spent in eight months

Shivaraj Bhatta

Shivaraj Bhatta

Only 20 percent budget spent in eight months

Only 20 percent of the development budget has been spent till February of the current fiscal year, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office, Kailali

The development expenditure of the Sudurpaschim (far-western) provincial government, which was not able to exceed 70 percent in the last two fiscal years, has been low this year as well. Only 20 percent of the development budget has been spent till February of the current fiscal year, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General's Office, Kailali.

“Only 20.73 percent of the budget has been spent on the capital side and 22.85 percent on the current side,” informs Basudev Joshi, province comptroller. “Although there has been some improvement on budget spending compared to last year, it has not been as expected.”

Joshi also informs that as of mid-February last fiscal year, the development budget was 17.26 percent, but this year it reached 20 percent around the same time. “It cannot be said that it has improved much, but it has increased on a percentage basis,” Joshi says. Two ministries in the province have been vacant for two months after the dispute in the ruling communist party over the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

Chief Minister Trilochan Bhatta had dismissed the Minister for Physical Infrastructure Development Pathan Singh Bohara claiming that he was in favor of Prime Minister KP Oli. Shortly afterwards, the state's economic affairs and planning minister, Jhapat Bohara, resigned. Bohara is also a central member of the Oli faction.

“The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development is responsible to spend the major part of the capital budget. It has no minister right now,” complains Ran Bahadur Rawal, parliamentary party leader of Nepali Congress. “The chief minister has not been able to appoint a new minister, nor has he been able to run it himself or regulate how the development budget is implemented.”

Rawal further accuses the provincial government of not having a vision for development. “The provincial government has employees and subordinate bases, but why only 20 percent of the expenditure? This government is a failure. It has no mission or vision,” Rawal says.

The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development, which is allotted the largest budget, has achieved 25 percent financial progress by mid-February. In the development budget of Rs 11 billion, the ministry has been able to spend only Rs 2.82 billion.

Other large-budget ministries too have not been able to make financial progress in the province. The Ministry of Social Development has a capital budget of Rs 2 billion. But it has been able to spend only Rs 360 million by mid-February, which is only 17 percent of the allotted budget. The Ministry of Social Development covers health, education, women's development, and sports.

“Now the problem is, 83 percent of the budget cannot be spent within the next four months. There is a tendency in Nepal to remain silent for ten months and rush to do everything in June and July, the last two months of the fiscal,” says economist Shivahari Mudbhari. “It seems this trend of budget spending will not change.”

Total 450 million in capital budget has been allotted to the office of the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers alone. Of that, only Rs 18 million—a mere 3.98 percent—has been spent till February.