Sunday, February 17, 2013

Projects of national pride see low performance



The government has handed over projects of national pride to the Investment Board as the projects have not seen significant progress.
"The government has handed over 14 projects of national pride to Investment Board for immediate implementation," said caretaker finance minister Barshaman Pun during the mid-term development evaluation meeting here today.
Prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had listed 17 infrastructure projects as 'National Pride' in his ambitious Immediate Action Plan, which he had unveiled with much fanfare last February.
However, except for Upper Tamakoshi hydropower, all the other projects have failed to move ahead smoothly due also to the government's non-priority towards development and concentration on politics.
Speaking, most probably, in his last meeting at the Finance Ministry, Pun also mentioned of Nepal Investment Year 2013, that has also not been moving ahead due to the government's apathy towards creating an investment friendly environment and security concerns from the private sector. Lately, the government has completely failed to boost the private sector's confidence that has plunged to an all-time low due to repeated attacks on them.
Boosting the confidence of the domestic private sector is key to attracting foreign direct investment as they are the bridge to bringing the foreign private sector to the country.
Pun, however, said that 60 per cent of the civil work on intake of Rani Jamara Kulariya irrigation project has been completed. "The construction of Babai and Sikta irrigation projects has been going on," he added.
The country could not get a full-fledged budget for the current fiscal year and has been operating through the interim public expenditure arrangement, which has slowed down development activities, he said, adding the government has spent Rs 7.66 billion under capital expenditure by the end of mid-January.
The government has spent a total of Rs 104.12 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal year. "The total expenses is 29.59 per cent of the total estimation of expenditure," said Pun, adding that of the total, a large chunk has been spent on recurrent expenditure that is salaries and administrative expenses at Rs 86.90 billion, whereas it spent Rs 9.55 billion under financial management.
"The government could do very little due to limited space," Pun added, claiming that he has, however, brought some regulatory changes, despite his limitations. "The government has received Rs 15.76 billion foreign aid commitment in the first half of the year, though it has been able to mobilise Rs 134.56 billion revenue."
"Despite a slowdown in economic activities, low agriculture production and industrial output, the economy is expected to grow by 4.1 per cent," Pun claimed, downward revising his earlier projection  of 5.5 per cent growth. But development partners — World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund — have projected economic growth at a little over three per cent for the current fiscal year.
He, however, boasted of the road expansion drive. "A total of 102.79 km road has been widened in Kathmandu valley," he said, adding that some 84.69 km road in Kathmandu, some 15.60 km road in Lalitpur and some 2.50 km in road Bhaktapur have been widened so far.
Likewise, under the cross border customs road expansion to six lane plan to expedite external trade, the government has started the expansion of Bhairahawa and Biratnagar customs roads recently, Pun added.

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