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Govt dissatisfied with capital expenditure

The government has expressed dissatisfaction over the status of capital expenditure in the first four months of this fiscal, as leaders and lawmakers representing the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) criticised the government for poor performance.

In the review period, around 19 per cent of the capital budget has been spent, which is around 39 per cent more than expenditure in the same period last year, according to Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada. “Although capital expenditure has increased, we are still not satisfied,” he said after a meeting with ministers and secretaries of development-related ministries today at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.

In the meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation, the Ministry of  Energy, Water Resource and Irrigation, the Ministry of Urban Development, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and National Reconstruction Authority presented progress reports.

“Since the capital expenditure in the first four months of the last fiscal was poor due to elections, the 39 per cent increase in expenditure this year was not satisfactory,” said Khatiwada.

In their presentations, the ministries stated that they failed to meet expenditure target due to time-consuming tasks of civil servants’ adjustment and drafting of working procedure for budget allocation. But Khatiwada said the ministries could not continue to furnish excuses for their failure to spend the budget. According to Khatiwada, the meeting focussed on internal problems in ministries and problems related to inter-ministry coordination.

In the meeting, the PM directed the ministries to speed up implementation of the government’s policies and programmes and budget. He also directed the ministries failing to meet the expenditure target in the first four months of the fiscal to take initiatives to address the gap. “All the ministries should take concrete steps to achieve their targets by the end of the fiscal,” Khatiwada quoted Oli as saying in the meeting.

Under the civil construction head, the MoPIT spent 15 per cent of the allocated budget, MoEWI 15 per cent, MoUD nine per cent, MoALD four per cent and MoICS six per cent, as per the progress report presented by the ministries.

Khatiwada said the government planned to address all issues hindering capital expenditure by mid-December and achieve the expenditure target by the end of the fiscal.

The government also conceded that some mega projects were facing difficulties in meeting their targets and that those problems would be addressed at the earliest.

Khatiwada added that his ministry would not entertain funding demands from various sectors. “We shall only address rational demands,” Khatiwada said.

Lawmakers and political leaders have been seeking funds from the finance ministry to implement their pet projects in their respective constituencies. Khatiwada said ministries also tended to seek additional budget despite failure to spend the allocated budget. “This should be discouraged,” he said. “We should not allocate funds to programmes that have not been included in the annual budget announcement. It will not be fair to taxpayers and donors,” he said, adding that the issue was discussed in today’s meeting.

The budget was announced on May 29 and its implementing procedure was endorsed by the Parliament in mid-July. According to Khatiwada, other ministries will present their report cards tomorrow and on Saturday.


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