MoLD proposes monitoring mechanism

LALITPUR: In a bid to effectively monitor the functioning of local bodies, Ministry of Local Development (MoLD) has tabled a proposal for forming a high-level monitoring mechanism in the Cabinet.

Minister for Local Development Purna Kumar Sherma Limbu said the ministry was looking into the activities of local bodies, especially after people complained of irregularities and misuse of the development funds there.

He said the monitoring units existing in the centre, ministry and local bodies, were reportedly not working effectively. "We have felt an urgent need to check such activities in the bodies by means of an effective mechanism," the minister said. "The quantity and quality of works, increasing unaudited budget and inability to punish the guilty are plaguing the local bodies," he added.

"We submitted the proposal to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers on Monday," said Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, spokesperson, MoLD. "We have received reports that a huge amount of development funds is embezzled by means of fake progress reports in the local bodies," he clarified the need for such a mechanism.

According to MoLD sources, at least Rs 35 billion is disbursed to District Development Committees, municipalities and Village Development Committees across country every year. The unaudited for expenditure of MoLD is currently Rs 1.69 billion.

"A committee headed by the MoLD secretary is proposed to look into such embezzlements, at a time when the local governments lack elected representatives or an all-party mechanism," said Thapaliya. "The mechanism will include representatives from the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and the PM's office," he added. The special body will have regional bases and will study all the offices concerned in all the districts.

"A team of experts, led by a joint secretary, will be assigned to the fields. It will consult with local political parties, civil society and stakeholders," he said. "We will check their income, expenditure, quality of works and overall management and recommend necessary action to the government."

Minister Limbu said the committee would come into being immediately after the Cabinet's nod.