Key development projects off target

Kathmandu, January 1

Only 23 per cent of the national pride projects and 25 per cent of Priority One projects met over 80 per cent of the target set for the first four months of the current fiscal, indicating rampant slowdown in development activities in Nepal.

A report presented during the 35th meeting of the National Development Action Committee, which is headed by the prime minister and comprises all ministers and government secretaries as members, shows that only five national pride projects and 82 P1 projects were able to meet over 80 per cent of the target set for the four-month period between mid-July and mid-November.

The government categorises various development projects into national pride, P1, Priority Two (P2) and Priority Three (P3) based on their importance.

A total of 21 projects have been categorised as national pride, 326 as P1, 120 as P2 and 22 as P3 this fiscal year. These projects range from hydroelectricity and irrigation to roads and railway.

Some of the reasons for subpar performance of various projects, according to the report, are: shortage of fuel and construction materials, delay in decision-making by ministers or Cabinet, shortage of staff at project offices and local level, lack of clear provisions on procurement for multi-year projects and delay made by contractors.

The report shows that the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, which is implementing highest number of 57 P1 projects in this fiscal, was one of the worst performers in four months.

A total of 27 projects undertaken by the ministry could not even meet 50 per cent of the target in the review period. This indicates construction of crucial infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, is likely to be delayed this fiscal.

The performance of the Ministry of Irrigation was also not satisfactory in the four-month period, as 11 of the 24 P1 projects being executed by it failed to meet 50 per cent of the target.

The Ministry of Energy was another subpar performer. Only seven of the 28 projects undertaken by the ministry were able to meet over 80 per cent of the target in the first four months of this fiscal year, while progress status of six projects was unknown.

Worst, none of the P1 project being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Population which was recently transformed into the Ministry of Health was able to meet over 80 per cent of the target set for the four-month period.

Because of slow progress in development of crucial projects by different ministries, the government was able to utilise only 4.05 per cent of the annual capital budget of Rs 208.88 billion in the review period.