Reckless expenses have gone up, says OAG report

Kathmandu, April 13

The minister and its secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs have been milking state coffers under the pretext of maintaining law and order in the country, revealed a report of the Office of the Auditor General.

There is a provision which allows the home minister and secretary to spend up to Rs 50,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively at a time for the purpose of maintaining peace and security. However, contrary to the prevailing provision, the home minister released and spent around Rs 7.6 million while the home secretary withdrew Rs 7.9 million from state coffers during 2018-19, said an annual report released by the OAG.

If the report is anything to go by, the home secretary appears to be more extravagant than his minister.

The OAG said around Rs 5.9 million was spent in 2016-17, Rs 6.1 million in 2017-18 and Rs 7.6 million in 2018-19 with approval from the home minister. Similarly, the home secretary spent around Rs 2.4 million in 2016-17, Rs 5.3 million in 2017-18 and Rs 7.9 million in 2018-19 under the heading Peace and Security Purposes.

The audit report of the OAG shows an unusually increasing trend of expenditure with each passing year.

“The justification for increased expenditures on the part of the home minister and secretary is unclear. Though the existing provision has set the limit at Rs 50,000 and Rs 20,000 that may be released and spent by the minister and secretary at a time, it is silent on how many times the amount may be released in a month or a year,” reads the report. The provision was made by the Council of Minister on 26 May 1993, keeping in mind the security situation at the time.

The OAG in its report stressed the need to review the old provision in today’s context. The report said the MoHA had not even developed a procedure for disbursement of the amount to individual secret agents for providing crucial information related to peace and security. The report also stated that the MoHA distributed around Rs 164 million in 2016-17, Rs 296 million in 2017-18 and Rs 318 million in 2018-19 to various persons for relief, medical treatment, compensation and financial assistance as provisioned by a procedure endorsed by the Council of Ministers in 2012. Disbursement under the headings of relief, medical treatment, compensation and financial assistance has risen with each passing year.

In 2018-19, the MoHA provided amounts ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 million each to 2,230 persons.

“Despite increase in expenditure, the ministry does not seem to be adhering to the procedure.

The amount should have been disbursed to the beneficiaries concerned only after verification of medical treatment and other necessary documents,” the report warned.