Monday, July 22, 2013

Finance Ministry, World Bank hold trimester portfolio review

The government and World Bank held a joint portfolio review meeting today to assess the performance of development projects funded by the World Bank in Nepal.
The first trimester review meeting of the current fiscal year co-chaired by finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and World Bank country manager for Nepal Tahseen Sayed took stock of the implementation and results of 13 projects in the current portfolio of 18 ongoing projects, representing $850 million in the total portfolio size of $1.5 billion.
The meeting also discussed the status of disbursements and implementation challenges arising from weak fiduciary and safeguards compliance, frequent and untimely staff transfers, and delays in decision-making.  
Congratulating the government for presenting a full-fledged budget for the current fiscal year,
Sayed on the occasion, also hailed achievement for a remarkable turnaround in portfolio performance during the last quarter of fiscal year 2013-14, once the full budget was put in place. “With nearly half a billion dollars in new commitments,” she said that “the additional resources from the World Bank also call for greater mutual accountability for results.”
She highlighted financial management, procurement practices and transparency as key areas where governance oversight could be improved.

Likewise, i
n his closing remarks, finance secretary noted that spending authority was delegated to the line ministries on the same day the budget was approved. “The line ministries have been instructed to approve annual work programmes and budgets for Priority 1 (P1) projects within 15 days of the start of the new fiscal year and within 30 days for Priority 2 and 3 (P2, P3) projects,” he informed, adding that plans are afoot to strengthen the monitoring of budget execution at the Finance Ministry.
Chief of International Economic Cooperation and Coordination Division under Finance Ministry Madhu Kumar Marasini, on the occasion assured that the fiscal year 2013-14 will be the ‘year of implementation’.
Senior officials from the government and project implementing agencies also attended the review meeting, where director for Operations and Quality Services for South Asia Region of World Bank Idah Z Pswarayi-Riddihough and manager for Sustainable Development in South Asia Region of World Bank Jyoti Shukla addressed.
Follow up discussions have been scheduled on key outstanding implementation hurdles such as Right-Of-Way corridors for transmission line projects, forest permits for infrastructure projects, and fiduciary compliance including the timely submission of audit reports.

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