Dismal NRA performance hits govt fiscal spending target

Kathmandu, June 28

Disappointing performance of the National Reconstruction Authority has affected the government’s overall budget expenditure target in this fiscal. The NRA has spent only around 35 per cent or Rs 38.79 billion of the total allocated budget of Rs 110.89 billion till date, according to the Ministry of Finance.

“Adequate budget was allocated this fiscal to expedite post-earthquake reconstruction works, however, the implementation of the projects is not encouraging,” said Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi. “Slow progress on the reconstruction front has hit the overall budget expenditure target this fiscal.”

With only around two weeks remaining for the current fiscal to end, the government has spent only 62.6 per cent of the total allocated budget of Rs 1.048 trillion for this financial year, with capital expenditure at a paltry 42.34 per cent.

Apart from the housing grant distribution, the progress of other post-earthquake reconstruction projects has been dismal. NRA mobilised 60 per cent or Rs 31.22 billion for housing grant distribution out of the allocated Rs 51.22 billion. Also, the authority managed to utilise only 10 per cent of the allocated budget for reconstruction of government buildings, schools and other facilities.

Though post-earthquake reconstruction has been given due priority through the prime minister-led mechanism, the tardy pace may further escalate the cost of reconstruction works due to time overruns.

The government is mobilising a large chunk of resources from development partners and the NRA was formed for effective coordination among the implementing agencies to accelerate reconstruction works.

Bhishma Kumar Bhusal, joint spokesperson for NRA, said progress of reconstruction works depended on how effectively the implementing agency had been working. “As a coordinating agency, we have urged all the implementing agencies to come and discuss the obstacles to project implementation,” he said. “Some of the issues discussed with NRA have been promptly sorted out.”

The Post Disaster Recovery Framework unveiled on May 12 last year has envisioned completion of reconstruction of individual houses within three years and entire reconstruction works — schools, health posts, heritage sites, drinking water facilities, government buildings, bridges and roads ravaged by the earthquakes — within five years.

Slow progress of reconstruction works this fiscal has also raised questions on NRA’s ability to spend resources worth Rs 146.18 billion allocated for the next fiscal 2017-18, without systemic reengineering of implementation units.