The federal government has empowered the local levels to develop standard to maintain austerity measures in public expenditure.

According to a circular issued by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration on Friday, the local governments may prepare and implement a standard on public expenditure for mobilisation of funds without inconsistency with the 'Standard for Maintaining Austerity Measures in Public Expenditure, 2020' approved by the Council of Ministers last year.

"The standard to be developed by the local levels should focus on revitalising the economy hit by the COV- ID-19 pandemic, increasing expenditure for coronavirus infection prevention, control and treatment, and continuing with the under-construction projects by maintaining austerity measures in public expenditure," said the MoFAGA, citing a letter received from Budget and Programme Division at the Ministry of Finance.

The MoF had recently notified in writing that the local levels may develop their respective standards for public spending in a way that they do not contradict the provisions stipulated by the federal government last year. "The local levels and their office-bearers and employees shall make provision for spending budget on office goods, stationery items, water, electricity and fuel for official purpose in a bid to maintain austerity measures," the MoFAGA said.

The local levels have also been told to publish their periodic report on their website instead of getting them printed out for information to the public. It is expected to reduce stationary expenses.

Similarly, there should be no duplication of programmes or projects to be co-financed by or operated in partnership with the Government of Nepal, provincial government and local level. If there is duplication in the operation of such programmes or projects, the MoF shall withhold them immediately.

As per the federal provisions, no local unit shall purchase furniture, fixtures and other equipment for existing offices. However, they may purchase these materials for offices that will be newly established.

Likewise, they are required to organise training, symposium, discussion, meeting and interaction via online platform. If it is necessary to organise such programmes in the physical presence of participants, the concerned local level shall use its own meeting hall or public assembly hall.

Likewise, the local units have been prohibited from organising residential training, symposium or workshop with government resources or foreign loans. No employee, except office assistant and driver shall be hired on contract or daily wage basis with the approval of the executive office. The local levels shall not nominate any employee for observation visit training or study in foreign countries at the expense of government resources or foreign loans unless necessary and it must be approved by the concerned executive office of the federal level.

The provisions have also discontinued uniform expenses, dearness allowance, overtime allowance, hazard allowance, special allowance and lunch or food allowance for officer-bearers and employees, except for health workers. Similarly, no vehicle shall be purchased at the expense of government resources or foreign loans.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 13, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.