Leaders Lobbying to Include Plans of Vested Interest in Upcoming Budget

  4 min 19 sec to read
Leaders Lobbying to Include Plans of Vested Interest in Upcoming Budget

April 2: For the past few days, the mayor of Dharan sub-metropolitan city, Harak Sampang, has been lobbying to get a water supply project for Rai Nagar under the federal government's budget.

According to Finance Minister Barshman Pun's secretariat, Mayor Sampang has demanded a budget of around Rs 5 billion for the project which can supply water from Saptakoshi River in Chatara, which is about 15 kilometers away from Dharan.

However, a senior official of the National Planning Commission said that the plan proposed by Mayor Sampang falls outside the budget system. "This project does not appear to have been entered in the National Project Bank either.

As per the rules, such projects will not get any budget," a senior official who oversees the commission's project bank told New Business Age requesting anonymity.

The National Planning Commission had recently issued guidelines on budget preparation to stop the trend of including projects of vested interest of politicians in the budget.

According to the Financial Procedures and Fiscal Responsibility Regulations, all central agencies have to send the details of the annual budget and program and medium-term expenditure structure by themselves or through their subordinate offices or projects by compulsorily entering the details of the projects in the National Project Bank.

The trend of the people's representative meeting the minister directly to put pressure for inclusion of plans still persists.

When Sampang asked for a budget, Finance Minister Barshman Pun suggested him to follow the budget system. The Finance Minister's secretariat said that Minister Pun suggested Sampang to talk to the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation as the demand for water supply project should come from the relevant ministry.

While the work of drafting the budget for the next fiscal year (FY) has started, Mayor Sampang has been openly pressuring the Minister for Finance as well as the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Industry to secure resources for the plans of his interest.

Like the mayor of Dharan, other people's representatives have also stepped up their efforts in recent days to incorporate their desired plans in the budget. According to government officials, the plans proposed by many such people’s representatives are not in accordance with the rules. After the promulgation of the new constitution in 2072 BS, the three-tier government started announcing the budget.

The leaders had openly announced that the authority of Singha Durbar had been delegated to the village. However, in practice, the tendency of seeking the central government’s help for even petty projects still persists. Even now, the party leaders and the people's representatives have not stopped visiting Singha Durbar to fulfill their plans with vested interest.

Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP)’s MP Hari Dhakal pointed out that there is a risk of repetition of the budget of the same nature due to pressure from the political party leaders and elected representatives. Stating that the discussions in the parliament regarding the principles and priorities of the upcoming year's budget have been completed, he said that a large number of leaders have been lobbying for incorporating their plans in the budget at a time when the NPC has been fixing the ceiling of budget.

Uttar Kumar Khatri, joint secretary of the Ministry of Finance, says that it is not appropriate to put pressure for inclusion of schemes from outside the budget system as the government employees have been working from morning till late night to prepare the budget. Khatri insists that if any plans are to be incorporated in the budget, they should come through the relevant ministry.

The Constitution of Nepal has a mandatory provision for the government to announce the budget on the fifteenth day of the second month of the Nepali calendar which falls on May 28 this year.

The National Planning Commission has set a ceiling of Rs 1800 billion for the next year's budget. However, a highly-placed source at the Ministry of Finance said that the prime minister has instructed to start preparations to bring a budget of around Rs 2000 billion to revitalize the economy of the country.

For the current fiscal year, the government had announced a budget of Rs 1751 billion. However, the government has not been able to implement the current fiscal year's budget effectively. So far, the government has failed to spend even 50 percent of the allocated budget. Similarly, even 30 percent of the development budget has not been spent. This has raised serious questions about the efficiency of the government.

No comments yet. Be the first one to comment.