NCP MPs want hike in pork barrel spending

Kathmandu, April 28

As the pre-budget session begins tomorrow in the House of Representatives, lawmakers representing the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have started lobbying for increasing the Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme fund to Rs 100 million from Rs 40 million.

Last year also, ruling party lawmakers had lobbied with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada to raise the amount to Rs 100 million.

Then, the government decided to raise the amount to Rs 40 million from Rs 30 million and scrapped Rs 5-million Lawmaker Development Fund.

NCP lawmakers, especially those elected under the first-past-the-post electoral system, have already launched a signature campaign at the NCP parliamentary party office at Singha Durbar as the government prepares to present the budget for the next fiscal year on May 29.

NCP Central Committee member and lawmaker Rajendra Gautam said 25 lawmakers had signed for the hike. “After we complete the signature campaign, we will hand over the signatures to the authorities concerned,” he said.

A total of 116 NCP lawmakers were elected under the FPTP electoral system in the HoR.

Each HoR electoral constituency will have a committee comprising lawmakers (elected under both FPTP and proportional representation system) and local level representatives. However, the CISP procedure authorises FPTP lawmakers to take the last call. Lawmakers, who plan to meet Oli and Khatiwada soon, have also been lobbying with NCP deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Chandra Nembang to raise the CISP fund. Nembang has assured lawmakers that he will convey their demands to the PM.

The CISP fund of Rs 10 million was first launched in the fiscal 2014-15 by the NCled government. The then finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat introduced the scheme keeping in mind the fact that absence of elected local bodies hampered implementation of development programmes at the local levels. Subsequently, Krishna Bahadur Mahara increased the amount to Rs 30 million when he was the finance minister.

Not only NCP lawmakers, those representing Nepali Congress, the main opposition, are also for raising the CISP fund.

They even want reintroduction of the scrapped Lawmaker Development Fund.

NC Whip Pushpa Bhusal demanded that the LDF should be Rs 10 million, adding that transparency should be ensured as far as expenditure of the amount is concerned. She said the existing CISP procedure, which makes FPTP lawmakers all powerful, should be amended.