Lack of accountants in govt offices affects country’s capital spending

Kathmandu, June 21

Lack of accountants in over 200 government offices and projects has affected works related to preparation of procurement documents, decelerating the pace of capital spending in the country.

According to the information obtained by The Himalayan Times, posts of accountants are vacant in more than 10 Road Offices under Department of Roads, including in Damak, Biratnagar, Chitwan, Syabrubesi, and Kathmandu. Similarly, the government has yet to appoint accountants in newly announced 26 municipalities, 20 district development committee offices, 30 district education offices, 30 irrigation division offices, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, and other local bodies. The post of an account officer is vacant even in some of the District Treasury Controller Office (DTCO)s.

Every government office and project comprises a ‘procurement unit’, in which an accountant advises during preparation of procurement document, apart from carrying out regular works like book-keeping, payment issuance, among others. Because of dearth of accountants, the government has hardly spent 30 per cent of the capital budget as of mid-June, according to the Financial Comptroller General Office (FCGO).

As the posts of accountants have remained vacant for long, the government’s recurrent expenditure has also been hit. Surprisingly, what has not been affected is the salary and allowance distribution of the staffers.

It is reported that accountants from DTCO of the respective districts have been deputed for maintaining the accounts of the concerned offices. Principally, it is the responsibility of the accountants deputed from the DTCO to carry out all related works, including procurement, of the respective offices. However, they do not want to take on the responsibility because they have been deputed as a stopgap measure, according to a high-level source at the Ministry of Finance.

“Lack of accountants has also affected timely accounting of donor funded projects, which has been affecting aid disbursement as well,” the source added.

FCGO is authorised to fill the vacant posts of accountants with the consent of Ministry of General Administration (MoGA). Normally, FCGO appoints accountants every August. But cowed under the pressure from the trade union of civil servants, the MoGA had given consent for the appointment of only eight accountants out of 200.

Trade unions are said to pull all strings to have their near and dear ones appointed in vacant positions in project offices and other lucrative places, and start political lobbying with the MoGA’s leadership. This is the reason the appointment of accountants has lingered for long. Now, FCGO is reportedly preparing to appoint accountants in all vacant positions in coming August.

Kewal Prasad Bhandari, joint financial comptroller general, said that FCGO is making necessary preparations to fill all the vacant posts.

Even as the law allows appointment of accountants as per need any time, there are procedural hassles. Qualified accountants, wishing to transfer to other office or project, should submit an application to FCGO stating their wish. Based on the application, the FCGO can transfer him or her any time with MoGA consent.