Be accountable

Jul 21, 2017
If everything goes according to the Ministry of Finance’s plan of action, implementation of capital expenditure will increase remarkably, boosting the national economy and creating thousands of jobs in various sectors.
The ministry has issued a time-bound action plan to expedite the implementation of capital expenditure.
It was less than 65 percent of the total Rs. 111.8 billion allocated for  capital expenditure during the previous fiscal. The government’s inability to spend the development budget has always been a major problem leading to budget freeze and escalating unemployment and delay in completion of the national prioritized projects.
The Finance Ministry has informed secretaries of all ministries about the time-bound plan of action that needs to be strictly followed while spending the development budget. The Appropriation Act, 2017/18 and its dependent Acts passed by Parliament has come up with a specific plan of action about the modality of spending the development budget.
From now onwards no government entities will be allowed to spend  large chunks of the budget in the final months of the fiscal.
According to the guideline prepared based on a provision in the Appropriation Act, the concerned government agencies are required to spend 29 percent of the allocated budget in the first quadrimester, 67 percent by the end of the second quadrimester and the rest by the end of the fiscal.
As per the provision, the ministries and implementing agencies are required to develop a procurement plan, detailed design of the project and its cost estimates and issue tender calls within the first month of the fiscal and award the tender within the first quarter of the fiscal.
The concerned ministries and agencies are also required to have an action plan of their projects on their websites by August-end. If this provision is strictly followed by all concerned, the implementation of the development budget will be reached at the desired level of up to 95 percent and above.
The new provision has it that the ministries cannot ask the MoF to transfer funds at the end of the second quadrimester. This has to be done by August-end with detailed project report, procurement plan, EIA, cost estimates and tender bidding.
Lack of full preparedness in advance is the major cause of delay in implementing the prioritised projects. But the new provision is silent about the departmental action to be taken against the officials causing delay in awarding the contract.
The new rule has also barred a contractor from taking part in other contracts at the same time. Payment to the contractor will be made only after the work is inspected and certified by the vigilance agency. Similar plans of action were also made even in the past.
But they were hardly implemented largely because of non-cooperation from the bureaucracy which is least bothered about spending the development budget. The latest guideline introduced by the MoF will remain ineffective, as in the past, unless the government comes up with a carrot-and-stick approach.
Honest and competent officials should be deployed in the national prioritised projects with full authority attached with certain riders. Such provisions will certainly make them accountable to the people and the nation.
Meeting deadline
Although  Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had directed the related bodies to fill the pits and potholes in the capital’s roads within 15 days this seems to be impossible.
The Department of Roads (DoR) says that it would not be possible to repair the roads and blacktop them and this could be done only after the end of the rainy season. Due to the rains the roads of the capital are inundated causing inconvenience to the pedestrians and also the vehicles.
It looks like by the coming Saturday only 30 per cent of such pits and potholes would be filled.
Meanwhile, the DoR says that it has not been allocated the required budget to complete the task of repairing the roads in the valley. Apparently it had demanded a sum of Rs. 12 billion for maintaining the roads in the last fiscal year but it was only provided  with Rs. 3 billion.
The Melamchi water supply project has been asked to fill the trenches after laying pipelines. The KMC has been assigned the task for repairing the inner roads.
The Himalayan Times, July 21, 2017

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