Kathmandu, December 2
Against the federal government’s direction to all local level governments to present their budget on time, a total of 21 local bodies are yet to present their budget for the ongoing fiscal year 2019-20.
It has already been more than four-and-half months since the new fiscal year began, but the 21 local bodies have failed to present their budget. As per the Intergovernmental Fiscal Management Act, local bodies have to present their budget latest by Asadh 25 (July 10).
According to the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO)’s latest report, 21 local bodies — two from Province 1, eight from Province 2, four from Province 3, two from Province 5 and five from Karnali Province — have still not presented their fiscal budget.
Bhesh Prasad Bhurtel, deputy financial comptroller general at FCGO, said the above mentioned local bodies have not been able to receive the grant assistance from the federal government as they have failed to present their budget. “Most of them are village municipalities and a few are municipalities.”
As per FCGO, four municipalities — two from Kapilvastu and one each from Sarlahi district and Udayapur district — have not presented their budget so far.
As per the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration’s records, only 732 out of 753 local governments have announced their budget so far, which means that 21 local bodies do not have any money to spend for this fiscal year.
Jaya Narayan Acharya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA), said that those 21 local bodies are utilising their budgetary expenses from the first tranche of the budget, which is automatically sent to their respective accounts after the fiscal year begins.
“The heads of village municipalities and municipalities are still negotiating with MoFAGA and FCGO for a possible way out,” Acharya said, adding they are using their budget titled ‘extraordinary’ or ‘emergency’ only.
“We repeatedly forwarded a circular to the local governments urging them to present their budget, but they failed to comply with the given direction. However, some local bodies that had earlier not presented their budget have done so in recent times and now they are in the verification process at the MoFAGA and FCGO,” Acharya informed.
“If any local body is unable to present its budget, its budgetary expenses will be put under the heading of arrears,” Acharya said.
On a positive note, all the local bodies of Gandaki Province and Sudur Paschim Province have already unveiled their budget plans.
As per Bhurtel, most of the local bodies are facing internal conflicts related to allocation of budget and lack of trained manpower to formulate the budget.
Dambar Bahadur Shahi, chairperson of Sanni Triveni Village Rural Municipality of Kalikot, said they have already finalised the ongoing fiscal year’s budget. “It is a reality that we did cross the deadline to present our budget, so the MoFAGA and FCGO have put our name in the list of local bodies that have not presented their budget, which is rather unfortunate.”
According to him, they have, however, not faced any difficulty in managing everyday expenses and budgetary works.
A version of this article appears in print on December 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.