Work under Physical Infrastructure Development Ministry in Sudurpaschim has been affected due to lack of staffers.

There is shortage of technical staff at the ministry, which is responsible for spending over half of the province's budget, and at its subordinate offices.

The ministry has positions for dozens of engineers, including senior divisional engineers, and sub-engineers. But most of the positions are lying vacant, which has made it difficult to effectively execute the ministry's plans. As a result, by mid-December only 4.25 per cent of development budget allocated for the ministry has been spent.

Compared to this percentage, the ministry had spent 31.86 per cent of its development budget as showed by its half-yearly progress report.

"The dismal expense of the development budget in the province has to do with lack of technical staff for supervision, valuation and execution of plans at the ministry," said Provincial Assembly member Liladhar Bhatta of Sudurpaschim, accusing the government of ignoring staff management.

Physical Infrastructure Development Ministry in the province has 11.4388 billion rupees budget for capital expenditure, and has posts for 55 staffers. But some 42 positions, including that of under-secretaries are vacant, with just 13 employees at work at the ministry now.

There are positions for a total of 452 employees at the ministry and its subordinate province and district-level offices. Of them, 161 posts are vacant.

PA member Karna Malla accused the government at the province of failing to perform effectively. "Performance of this government hasn't been effective since day one when it was formed. On the one hand, while the government cannot manage staffers, on the other, it doesn't bother to find ways to spend its capital budget," he said.

On his part, Physical Infrastructure Development Ministry Secretary Tulasiram Bhattarai argued that it would be unfair to blame lack of staff solely for the low expenditure of capital budget. "There are other sides to budget execution, so it would be unfair to say that the budget could not be spent due to lack of staffers," he observed.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 31, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.