Kathmandu, September 11
The government and development partners have identified a raft of issues that need to be improved on both sides to achieve the expected results from donor-funded projects within the stipulated timeframe.
Nepal Portfolio Performance Review (NPPR) has pinpointed specific problems associated with both the government and the development partners, which are resulting in consistently low capital expenditure. For more result-focused project execution, both the sides have to resolve the problems identified during the NPPR.
As per the review, the government needs to resolve issues like delay in programme approval and budget authorisation, lengthy procurement process and weak monitoring of procurement, land acquisition, frequent changes of project staff, timely reporting and disbursement to ensure timely execution of the projects.
As the country has been largely dependent on development aid to finance development projects, the government has been facing problems in designing projects due to the unpredictability of the aid and various conditions imposed by the development partners.
Lack of compliance of donors in the government’s Development Cooperation Policy and the tendency of direct and extra-budgetary funding from the development partners have also been identified as the challenges in implementing the result-based approach.
The government has urged the development partners to focus more on the results rather than the processes and inputs. Similarly, frequent changes in the sector-related staff have also been hindering coordination during the procurement process, as per the review. The development partners have also been urged to refrain from submitting misleading reports on disbursements.
NPPR is a platform initiated since 2006 to identify and resolve the challenges facing donor-funded projects. However, the government from this year has aligned the portfolio review with the government’s planning, budgeting and monitoring and evaluation process.
Similarly, it has also shifted the ownership and accountability from the staff agencies, like, Prime Minister’s office, finance ministry, National Planning Commission, Financial Comptroller General Office to implementing agencies of each sector like energy, education, agriculture and transport, among others.
The government has also strengthened the monitoring and review mechanism and made the implementing agencies responsible.
Launching the NPPR report, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that the government has focused on the outcomes by resolving the concerns raised in earlier NPPR.
“The government has made its best effort to close the gaps seen in project execution,” Mahat said, adding, “Programme approval and authorisation for the line ministries and implementing agencies to spend the allocated budget have been simplified.”
Initiations like multi-year contract and amendment in Public Procurement Act, among others, have been taken to accelerate the capital expenditure, according to Finance Minister Mahat.
In this fiscal, about a half of the capital expenditure will be spent in post-earthquake reconstruction and the government has constituted National Authority for Reconstruction for effective implementation of the projects.
Meanwhile, Kenichi Yokoyama, country director of ADB, emphasised that there are numerous challenges in meeting the NPPR’s objectives of enhancing development project implementation and delivering faster results. However, he appreciated the government’s effort in justifying ‘budget implementation year’ that was announced in fiscal budget 2015-16.
A version of this article appears in print on September 12, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.