Progress of national pride projects remains sluggish
The progress of national pride projects was tepid in the first half (mid-July to mid-January) of this fiscal as 18
projects listed under this category spent Rs 12.05 billion, which is only 18.92 per cent of the total allocated budget. The fiscal budget had allocated Rs 63.71 billion for the execution of national pride projects.
Apart from the Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project, expenses of other projects was slow in the first half of the current fiscal. Out of 18 projects, three projects — second. International Airport, Pashupati Area Development Trust and Pokhara Regional Airport — did not spend even a single rupee of the allocated amount, as per the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
Babai Irrigation Project
Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project
Budhigandaki Hydropower Project
Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track
Lumbini Development Trust
Melamchi Drinking Water Project
North-South Corridors (Koshi, Karnali
Pashupati Area Development Trust
Pokhara Regional International Airport
President Chure-Tarai Madhesh
Rail, Metrorail and Monorail Development Project
Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project
Second International Airport, Nijgadh
Sikta Irrigation Project
South Asia Tourism Infrastructure
Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project
The government has introduced multi-year contracts for priority projects and allocates resources every fiscal year till the projects are completed. However, the expenses have been far lower than the allocated sum.
The government has extended the deadline of a majority of projects under this category and some of the projects that were supposed to be started have been in limbo since several years.
For example, the Mid-Hill Highway Project, which commenced from 2007-08 and was expected to have been completed by the end of this fiscal. However, out of 110 bridges that need to be constructed along this highway, only 40 bridges have been completed, 30 are under construction and 40 are yet to be started. Also, only 445 km section of the 1,776 km long highway has been blacktopped so far.
The MoF has been laying emphasis on allocation efficiency of late and has asked projects to surrender their budget if their works have not started by mid-March. In this regard, the aforementioned national pride projects that have made no progress will also have to surrender their budget.
Melamchi Water Supply Project, which commenced in 2001-02 and was supposed to have been completed in 2014-15, has managed to achieve 93 per cent physical progress in one-and-a-half decades. Due to the delay in construction, the cost of developing the project escalated considerably as compared to initial cost estimation.
The Sikta Irrigation Project, which aims to irrigate 42,766 hectares of land in the western Tarai region, was started in fiscal 2005-6 and was supposed to be completed at a total cost of Rs 12.8 billion by 2014-5. But its cost has ballooned to Rs 25 billion and the completion deadline has been extended to fiscal 2019-20.
As per MoF, the Budhigandaki Hydropower Project, Kathmandu-Tarai Fast track and Babai Irrigation Project have spent merely 0.13 per cent, 2.96 per cent and 15 per cent of the allocation, respectively. However, Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project, Mid-Hill Highway and North-South Corridors (Koshi, Karnali and Kaligandaki) have spent 62 per cent, 57 per cent and 46 per cent, in the first half of the fiscal, which amounted to Rs 556 million, Rs 2.31 billion and
Rs 951 million, respectively.
Likewise, expenditure of top priority (P1) projects stood at 32.95 per cent of the total allocation. Around 86 per cent of the total budget is allocated for P1 projects, which also includes the national priority projects. The MoF has said that the expenditure under P1 projects improved in the first half of this fiscal compared to 26.52 per cent expenses in the first half of last fiscal.
Projects categorised under national pride project include hydropower, irrigation, airport, highways and railways that have significant impact on country’s economic development. The government is planning to bring a separate act for execution of national pride projects and establish a high-powered monitoring mechanism under Prime Minister’s Office for effective monitoring of development projects.