My Republica, Rudra Pangeni, March 25 2017, Kathamandu
The government has distributed a total of Rs 5.05 billion to finance different projects in order to woo voters ahead of upcoming election for local bodies.
The amount was distributed between December 19 and February 28. Distribution of such funds was stopped from March 1 when the code of conduct for the local polls came into effect.Budget distribution records submitted to the Finance Committee of the parliament show that Rs 809 million has been allotted for 70 projects in Kathmandu alone. Out of budget allocated for Kathmandu, Rs 740 million, or 14 percent of the total budget distributed between December 19 and February 28, has been allocated for 31 road expansion projects in Kathmandu Metropolitan City alone.This budget is not for regular road expansion program, according to government officials. A source at the Ministry of Finance told Republica that such a huge amount of budget has been distributed on the pressure of cadres of the ruling UCPN (Maoist). “And such allocation is guided by the motive of influencing voters in the upcoming election,” the source added.
An analysis of funds distribution shows that the allocations have been made breaching fiscal discipline. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other ministers have distributed from the state coffer in their election constituencies. Data shows that Rs 678 million has been allocated for Chitwan - the home district of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Budget allocations are of two types - budget transfer from other projects and assurance of resources for spending. Local bodies have to spend such funds money by mid-July or within the current fiscal year.
A total of Rs 1.18 billion was transferred to small projects from other projects, while another Rs 3.87 billion has been distributed in the name of 'resources assurance'. The money for the resource assurance is different from the regular budget as the amount will be released only after submitting the bills after spending, officials involved in resource distribution say.Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara has allocated Rs 656 million for his home district -- Rolpa. Likewise, he has allocated Rs 349 million for Dang from where he was elected in 2008.
Likewise, Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma has managed to distribute Rs 204 million for his home district -- Rukum.Bureaucrats are also not behind when it comes to allocating resources. A total of Rs 203 million has been allocated for Gulmi - the home of a large number of government employees, sources say.
Likewise, the erstwhile Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Hitaraj Pandey has allocated Rs 106 million in his district.
Six districts -- Bhojpur, Manang, Makwanpur, Rasuwa, Rupandehi and Solukhumbu - did not get even a penny in resources distribution made between December 19 and February 28. Similarly, 20 districts, including Mustang, Arghakhanchi, Morang, Terhathum, Udaypur and Bajura, received less than Rs 100 million each.The Finance Committee has launched a study on such arbitrary budget distributions. Lawmakers have also criticized such spending. “Such haphazard allocation of budget is putting a dent on economy. Such transfers neither support growth, nor create employment opportunities,” lawmaker and former finance minister Surendra Pandey said.
Min Bahadur Shrestha, vice chairperson of the National Planning Commission Min Bahadur Shrestha, however, argued that the budget transfers have been made as per the existing laws and established practice of providing funds for projects facing resources crunch.