MoPIT, MoUD to focus on existing programmes

Kathmandu, April 27

The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) and the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) have started discussions on their respective policies and programmes for next fiscal year 2020-21.

The two ministries are holding discussions in accordance with the budget ceiling provided by the Ministry of Finance before the lockdown was imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, since the government’s priority has changed after the outbreak of the COVID-19 contagion, the two ministries are holding discussions on the next fiscal budget by taking that into account.

The MoPIT has stated that it will focus on first completing the old projects and will add only one or two new programmes next fiscal.

Devendra Karki, secretary at MoPIT, informed that since the budget ceiling was provided before the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown, the ministry is now revising its programmes as the situation has changed.

“There might be a change in the government’s priorities now due to the pandemic and the budget ceiling could be revised as we have been asked to hold discussions with a lower budget in mind than the ceiling that was provided earlier,” Karki informed.

He, however, said that the ongoing projects must be continued and discussions on new projects are being held but nothing has been finalised yet.

Karki said that they have a responsibility to continue with the projects that have been included in the basket of national pride projects. He mentioned that the Janakpur-Jayanagar Railway, which is in the final stage of operation, and the East-West Electrified Railway are priority projects and need to be continued.

Since the last few years, the government has been allocating budget by giving high priority to infrastructure projects. However, due to the coronavirus epidemic, the government’s priority seems to have changed and it will focus more on health and the survival of citizens. Therefore, the development ministries like MoPIT are giving importance to the existing projects rather than identifying new projects.

Meanwhile, the MoUD has also indicated that it will accord more priority to the existing projects.

Krishna Prasad Duwadi, joint secretary at MoUD, informed that the budget ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year is lower than the current fiscal year. “At present, we are holding discussions with the National Planning Commission and once the talks are over, we will finalise our policies and programmes. This year we will focus on continuing with the existing projects,” he stated.

Duwadi further informed that the ‘Safe citizen housing programme’ will also be a priority of the ministry if there is sufficient budget.

The Cabinet meeting held on April 13 had also amended the working procedure for the ‘Safe citizen housing programme’.

“We will have no new programmes in the upcoming budget and will continue with the existing ones,” he mentioned.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 28, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.