Nagarika, March 10, 2019
KATHMANDU: The government’s spending on vehicle purchase, fuels and travel expenses is lower this year, according to the midterm review of the budget and program unveiled last week.
This indicates that the government has adopted austerity measures in spending under regular expenses, though it has failed to make any progress in capital budget spending.
The figures of heading-wise spending indicate that Minister for Finance Yubaraj Khatiwada has become successful to cut current spending, which is different from the past trends.
A comparison of the government’s expenses shows that spending on purchase of vehicles by the previous government from mid-July 2017 to mid-January 2018 (first half of the last fiscal year) amounted to Rs 2.24 billion, while such spending during the first half of the current fiscal year (from mid-July 2018 to mid-January 2019) was Rs 1.03 billion, down by 54 percent.
The government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba was in office during mid-July 2017 to mid-January 2018, with Krishna Bahadur Mahara as the finance minister.
The previous government’s spending on vehicles and foreign and domestic junkets were widely criticized, which is not the case for the current government during the first six months of the fiscal year.
Travel expense has declined by 236 percent -- to Rs 506 million from Rs 2.14 billion in the same period of last fiscal year. However, expense for the travel of VIPs has increased to Rs 58.6 million from Rs 38.9 million. Expense on fuel by the government agencies has now declined to Rs 1.07 billion, by 20 percent, in the review period.
Likewise, spending on house rent decreased by 6 percent, to Rs 1.03 billion. Amounts spent on consultancy services have also declined by 30 percent to Rs 738 million, according to the statistics of the government.
Likewise, spending on operation and maintenance is also down by about 25 percent to Rs 760 million in the review period. The spending under these headings in the recent years shows a robust increment each passing years.
Spending on furniture and uniform allowance has declined by 16 and 45 percent, to Rs 236 million and Rs 386 million, respectively. Spending on monitoring and evaluation also went fell by 28 percent, according to the statistics.
However, the government’s total spending including capital budget has failed to make progress. Finance Minister Khatiwada himself is not satisfied with the slow pace of spending of capital budget, which remained only at 17 percent in the first half of the current fiscal year, while overall spending was only at 28 percent according to the midterm review report.
“We had set the target of achieving spending minimum of 35 percent in the period, but we could not do that due to poor project management and delay in payments,” Khatiwada told the press on Tuesday after unveiling the report.