Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Low-spending projects to be told to surrender budget

The Finance Ministry has started the process to withdraw budget from projects that have failed to spend till the end of the eighth month – by March 13 – of the current fiscal year.
Chief of Budget Division under the ministry Madhu Marasini said that the Finance Ministry has written all the ministries to submit the reports of the progres of the projects under them within a week. "After we get their reply, the ministry will decide whether to direct them to surrender funds," he added.
Though, the Finance Ministry is responsible for the resource mobilisation only, the low progress of some of the big ticket projects have defamed the government pressuring it to transfer the budget to the projects that have been performing better.
According to the Financial Comptroller General's Office (FCGO), the government has, by Monday, been able to spend only 38.15 per cent or Rs 400.16 billion, out of the total budget of Rs 1048.92 billion for the current fiscal year.
Of the total spending, capital spending stands at Rs 67.82 billion or 21.74 per cent, which reveals the pathetic condition of the perfromances of the development projects.
The Finance Ministry has told all the ministries to either expedite the development projects or surrender the budget and it will transfer the budget to the projects like Rani-Jamara-Kulariya Irrigation project that is performing better.
According to the ministry, some national pride projects like second International Airport Nijgadh, Kathmandu Nijgadh Expressway are not peforming well. The government had in the budget for the current fiscal year earmarked some Rs 10 billion for these projects but they have not been able to spend.
The ministry attributes the lower performance of the national pride projects and other projects as they have been allocated budget without enough homework, detail project report and study.
The three ministries that have received almost half of the total capital budget have utilised only a quarter of available funds so far, according to the FCGO.
The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development were allocated a capital budget of Rs 135.9 billion – which is 44 per cent of the total capital budget of Rs 312 billion – for the current fiscal year.
But they, however, have spent only Rs 34.6 billion – which is only 25 percent of the total allocation – in the first eight months of the fiscal year, the latest data of the FCGO revealed.
"The worst performer was the Prime Minister’s Office, which was allocated a capital budget of Rs 35.3 billion which is 11.3 per cent of the total capital budget, has spent only Rs 2.7 billion or 7.8 per cent," the data revealed.
Prime Minister’s Office couldn’t spend capital budget because of low fund absorptive capacity of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), said joint secretary and spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Office Damodar Regmi.
Though the authority has expedited the process of extending housing grants to earthquake survivors, it has not been able to utilise the allocated capital budget, he added.
The government’s capital budget includes funds allocated for the purpose of executing civil works, and purchasing land, building, furniture, vehicles, plants and machinery, among others.
Likewise, the Physical Infrastructure Ministry, for instance, was allocated a capital budget of Rs 72.7 billion, which is almost a quarter of total capital budget. The ministry, however, has spent only Rs 24 billion or 33 per cent of the total budget, in the eight-month period.
The performance of the Local Development Ministry has been even worse, with capital spending standing at Rs 7.8 billion or 28 per cent of the total allocation.

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