September 1: The government has spent billions of rupees in petty works under the Prime Minister Employment Programme (PMEP) launched by the KP Sharma Oli-led government in the fiscal year 2018/19.
This program was launched to employ citizens aged 18 to 59 years who have not been employed for at least 100 days in a year. The government had announced that if the citizens could not get employment for a minimum of 100 days, it would provide a subsistence allowance equal to 50 days' wages.
Despite spending a huge amount of money on the programme, the state has not been able to provide minimum employment to all the unemployed. Unemployment allowance has not been given to the people who have not got minimum employment.
This program has been facing criticism since its inception. There is an allegation that political party workers are being given allowances in the name of employment for youths. In the same year that the program was launched, the government was accused of spending billions of rupees from the state coffers in unproductive sectors.
The government allegedly spent billions of rupees in unproductive sectors like chasing monkeys, uprooting weeds, and fending off cattle.
Until the last fiscal year, the government has not been able to create long-term employment through this programme. State funds were being spent on small projects.
The government has already spent Rs 38.76 billion on this program in the last five fiscal years. There is no visible achievement either. Neither the problem of unemployment has decreased nor have employment opportunities been created.
In the fiscal year 2018/19, the government allocated Rs 3.1 billion for this program. In the fiscal year 2019/20, the budget allocated was Rs 5.1 billion which was further increased to Rs 11.6 billion in FY 2020/21.
In the fiscal year 2021/22, the government allocated Rs 12 billion for this programme while it earmarked Rs 7.5 billion in FY 2022/23.
Almost all of the allocated budget seems to have been spent every year while the achievement remained zero.
For the current fiscal year 2023/24, the government has allocated Rs 5.94 billion for the program in the budget presented on May 29. It has been a month and a half since the start of the new fiscal year and the program has not been implemented yet.
Finance Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat had announced that the budget for this program will focus on engaging youths in economic activities within the country and this program will be restructured this year.
Three months after the release of the budget, government officials are confused about how to restructure it. The Secretariat of the Prime Minister's Employment Program falls under the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.
This program, which is being run with the help of financial support from the World Bank since the initial stage, has courted controversy because it is distribution-oriented.
But the government has been insisting that it will restructure the programme. But what concrete policy will be taken by the government has not been made public yet.
The Auditor General's report has also been raising questions about the expenses incurred through the Prime Minister's Employment Program. Officials of the National Planning Commission are also not satisfied with the expenditure. They have also been emphasizing restructuring the program. However, the government has not shown any interest in restructuring and implementing the program on time.