Govt seeks to boost capital expenditure

Kathmandu, November 28

Ministries and line agencies have been instructed to surrender the allocated budget of particular projects that are unable to make any progress till second quadrimester (mid-March, 2017) of this fiscal.

Owing to concerns of slow development expenditure in the first quadrimester, which stands at paltry five per cent of the total allocation worth Rs 311.95 billion, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has come up with this decision to end the usual trend of rampant expenses towards the end of fiscal year calendar.

After holding a series of discussions with the National Planning Commission (NPC), ministries and line agencies that have been assigned to mobilise sizeable amount of budget, the MoF has instructed the latter two to accelerate implementation of development projects and also barred them from starting works in the last hour.

“Chances of misuse of funds and delivery of low quality works are higher when the implementing agency starts works in the last moment,” said Madhu Kumar Marasini, chief of the Budget Division under MoF. “MoF will not allow projects with nil performance in the first two quadrimesters to kickoff works in the third quadrimester.”

The MoF has also discussed with the concerned secretaries from the various ministries and chiefs of the implementing agencies on the big ticket projects. Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara has sought regular reporting from the implementing agencies on the hassles faced during project implementation. “Ministries and implementing agencies have also been asked to submit action matrix for timely implementation of projects that are running in low gear,” informed Marasini.

The MoF has also requested the NPC to grant early approval of programmes, as some ministries and line agencies have complained about delay in approval of programmes and authority to spend the allocated funds. The government’s total expenditure in the first quadrimester (including recurrent, capital and financing budget) stood at just 16.45 per cent of the total budget of Rs 1,048.92 billion.

Ministries have also been asked to curb unproductive expenses like purchase of vehicles, foreign trips, among others. NPC and MoF have also been doing the ground work to hold the project chiefs responsible in implementation of projects, according to Marasini. “Performance shown by the civil servants as project chiefs need to be considered during performance appraisal, which is crucial for their promotion.”

The government has yet to obtain a significant amount of reimbursement from the development partners due to delay in accounting and reporting of the development partner-funded projects. MoF has asked the ministries and agencies to expedite the process of claiming reimbursement and to properly maintain the record of the turnkey projects (directly spent by development partners) in the country.

Implementing agencies have also been asked to properly check the quality and standards of the works and make contractors liable to deliver quality works on time, Moreover, as per the Public Procurement Law, the contractor will be liable to deliver works as per the set standards and in case of damage or functionality problems within the given timeframe, the contractor will have to get it fixed for no additional charge.

Also, the prime minister-led National Development Action Committee has already instructed the project executing agencies to make the main contractor liable in field-level works to end the various layers of sub-contractors, which is considered as the major reason for sub-standard works.

The MoF has said that it will intensify the monitoring of ministries and agencies authorised to spend larger amount of budget in the coming days.