Political parties criticised for nepotism while appointing directors for development projects

Kathmandu, February 26

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has urged the government to appoint the ‘right man’ in the ‘right place’ rather than allotting the posts to ‘near and dear ones’ of influential political parties citing competent human resources is the most vital aspect to expedite development projects.

In the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting — a regular mechanism of ADB to gauge the performance of ADB assisted projects in the presence of officials of ADB and Ministry of Finance and concerned project managers — the Manila-based multilateral donor said that the appointment of competent project managers in some ADB assisted projects resulted in outstanding performance of such projects in 2016.

A record high achievement in ADB’s operation history in Nepal was attained in 2016 with contract award totalling $359 million and aid disbursement worth $202 million, according to Diwesh Sharan, deputy director general of ADB South Asia Department.

The reasons behind the notable improvement, according to Kenichi Yokoyama, country director of ADB Nepal Mission, are project readiness, project leadership and capable human resources, procurement contract management and addressing the complex local issues.

Yokoyama emphasised on the need of competent project directors to deliver better results in the stipulated timeframe citing the progress of some projects handled by competent project directors namely, Melamchi Water Supply Project and SASEC power and transport projects.

“Project directors of high priority projects must be appointed from among the most competent staffs from the implementing agencies and the practice of appointing near and dear ones of political parties on a ‘sharing’ policy must be done away with,” Yokoyama stated during the review meeting.

ADB has concluded that nepotism practised by political parties while appointing project chiefs has been adversely affecting development projects. Nepal’s portfolio performance has improved in 2016, however, there are challenges that the country needs to overcome, according to ADB.

As per ADB, the country needs to enhance the performance on procurement document evaluation, stringent contract management, sound environmental and social safeguard management and others.

In total, of the active portfolio of $2 billion for 34 projects, 44 per cent or $883 million is uncontracted and $1.3 billion or 65 per cent remains undisbursed, according to ADB. Still, the high priority projects like Earthquake Emergency Assistance Project, and Tribhuvan International Airport and Gautam Buddha Airport expansion projects are yet to gather momentum.

In the programme, Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi, urged the implementing agencies of the ADB assisted projects to double their efforts in a bid to deliver the results. “We have identified the hassles on policy level, administrative level and local level that are responsible for the slow project performance and we have to overcome all these challenges through a collective effort.”

Baikuntha Aryal, chief of International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division under Ministry of Finance, also said that the socio-political environment of the country has been hindering development. Demand for huge compensation at the local level is one of the prominent social issues in recent times. “Too many unwanted stakeholders are active to grab undue advantage during project implementation after the procurement process of the project starts and this trend needs to be discouraged.”

ADB awards best projects, contractors, consultants

KATHMANDU: Asian Development Bank awarded best performing projects, contractors and consultants at the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting, in Kathmandu, on Sunday.

Melamchi Water Supply Project, Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Improvement Project and SASEC Power System Expansion Project bagged award of ‘Best Project Management Team’. Likewise, SASEC Power System Expansion Project was awarded for Outstanding Performance for Procurement Management, and Decentralised Rural Infrastructure and Livelihood Project for Best Project in Environmental Monitoring. Similarly, Electricity Transmission, Expansion and Supply Improvement Project was awarded for its remarkable contribution in Gender Equality and Social Inclusion.

ADB also extended awards to the best contractors of ADB assisted projects. Contractor of Melamchi Water Supply Project, Cooperative and Muratori and Cementisiti di Ravennna; the contractor of Electricity Transmission Expansion and Supply Improvement Project, KEC India Ltd (subcontractor: Sigma Con Pvt Ltd) and contractor of Decentralised Rural Infrastructure and Livelihood Project, Ashis- Mahalaxmi JV, were felicitated at the event. Similarly, consultant of Melamchi Water Supply Project, EptisaServicios de Ingenieria SL Spani - BETS Consulting Services Ltd was awarded as best consultant.

Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and Diwesh Sharan, deputy director general of ADB South Asia Department, handed over the awards. — HNS