With capital spending of the government in the first quarter at a dismal 3.42 per cent of the total allocation worth Rs 311.95 billion for the current fiscal year, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has ramped up monitoring of the ministries and departments that mobilise the largest amount of the budget.
The government’s total budget spending (including recurrent, capital and repayment of loans and interest) remained at a mere 19.11 per cent in the review period.
The monitoring committee led by the Monitoring and Evaluation Division head of the MoF comprises undersecretary at the Budget Division, representative from the Financial Comptroller General Office and undersecretary at the International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division under MoF. Recently, the monitoring team has initiated evaluation of the budget spending from the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) and Ministry of
Irrigation and Ministry of Agricultural Development.
According to the monitoring team, slow approval of the programmes from the National Planning Commission (NPC), slow procurement process and lack of monitoring in the field have been identified as the major reasons behind slow capital spending.
“NPC — the apex planning body of the government — has approved only five per cent of the programmes related to road sector, and without approval, the implementing agency cannot go for the procurement process,” a high-level MoF official told The Himalayan Times.
“Normally capital spending remains low in the first quarter of the fiscal because the implementing agencies have to conclude the ground works, including procurement. However, the progress of projects of multi-year contracts is also very slow.”
MoPIT, which mobiles the largest chunk of the budget, has spent just Rs 4.95 billion or 6.81 per cent in the first quarter. The top 10 ministries in terms of allocation amount have spent below 10 per cent of the total budget in the first quarter, except Ministry of Health.
The government has been relying on foreign aid to finance a majority of development projects, but the slow progress of the said projects has been drawing criticism from the development partners.
As the government is eyeing 6.5 per cent growth in this fiscal, the slow progress of development works makes it difficult for the government to achieve its target of moving towards higher growth trajectory.
A version of this article appears in print on October 28, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.