Nepal | July 15, 2020

Local bodies expedite budget preparations

Himalayan News Service
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KATHMANDU, JUNE 18

Local bodies have expedited their preparations to present their annual budgets for next fiscal year 2020-21.

As per the Intergovernmental Fiscal Management Act, local bodies need to present their budgets in their respective assemblies by Asadh 10 of the Nepali calendar — 20 days ahead of the end of the fiscal year. Based on this provision, metropolises, sub-metropolises, municipalities and rural municipalities will present their budgets in the municipal assemblies.

Local representatives said that they are facing difficulties in preparing the budget this time around due to the effect of the coronavirus.

“Due to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the government, we have faced some difficulties not only while delivering services to the people but also in preparing the upcoming fiscal year’s budget,” said Gita Satyal, deputy mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City.

Similarly, Govinda Khadka, chairperson of Likhu Tamakoshi Rural Municipality of Ramechhap, mentioned that they have almost completed preparing the budget for next fiscal year. “For the ongoing fiscal year we were not able to present our regular budget on time due to some technical issues. However, this time we have done all our homework to present the budget within the stipulated timeframe,” he informed.

The lockdown and strict social distancing requirement have created huge challenges for the local governments to hold discussions to generate new ideas and programmes.

It has been even more difficult in the local units with poor internet connection and poor digital literacy among the elected representatives which bars them from holding digital meetings or asking members to submit ideas via e-mail or social networking sites, said Bidya Sundar Shakya, mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. “However, despite some constraints, we have almost completed our budget and will present it on time,” he added.

Shakya added that they have already organised all-party meeting and discussions with the federal and provincial lawmakers, members of opposition parties, various activist groups, among others, for the budget by maintaining physical distance and adopting safety measures.

Most of the local bodies are focusing on programmes related to job creation, health, agriculture and cottage enterprises as mentioned in the guidelines prepared by the federal government for the local bodies.

The guidelines suggested the local governments to focus on the operation and management of quarantine centres, distribution of relief, health awareness campaigns, and projects that create employment like small infrastructure projects, commercialisation of agriculture and promoting cottage and small industries.

“We have followed the federal and provincial budget so that there is uniformity in the budget as the situation is not in our favour,” added Satyal.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 19, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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