Ministries face pressure of pork barrel projects

Kathmandu, April 25

The flow of lawmakers and other people in power at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and other ministries has increased in recent days at a time when the MoF is busy preparing the annual budget for the next fiscal year.

Though it is crucial that MoF take suggestions from stakeholders, including lawmakers, for programmes and policies to be incorporated in the budget, sources have said that the ministries, including the Finance Ministry are under pressure as people in power are trying to get pork barrel projects incorporated in the budget.

A source at the MoF confirmed that recommendations for various projects and programmes for the upcoming fiscal budget have increased rapidly in recent weeks.

“It is natural for the Finance Ministry to get recommendations for new projects. However, the recommendations for pork barrel projects have become a major source of headache for the ministry,” the source said.

The MoF is also under pressure to ensure that only ‘deserving’ projects and programmes are incorporated in the budget as stakeholders, including economic experts and the private sector, have been warning the government to include only feasible projects in the budget. They have been saying that haphazard approval of projects and announcement of programmes through the budget are the prime reasons behind the country’s low budget expenditure every year.

Hari Bhakta Sharma, former president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, said that though the ministries are under pressure to finalise and approve projects and programmes for the budget, they should give priority only to such projects whose feasibility studies have been conducted and can enter into construction phase immediately.

“Low capital formation and limited cash flow are the major problems today. The tendency to announce haphazard projects and allocate budget for them will further deteriorate capital and cash flow crunch,” said Sharma.