The government is sitting on Rs 100 billion — enough to construct a 600-MW hydropower plant — in its treasury, due to sheer inability to spend the money on development projects by the end of the current fiscal year, according to the National Planning Commission.
Every successive year the government has seen an erosion in its spending capacity. It had adjusted Rs 45 billion from the budget for last fiscal year into the budget in the current fiscal year as it was unable to spend as per target last fiscal year also.
Lack of spending capacity has stymied progress in national pride projects. According to the planning commission, 21 national pride project and 326 priority one projects have suffered due to the government’s inability to spend on time. Some projects have indeed been hit by earthquake and the Indian blockade, but projects that could have continued without any difficulty have also not been making any stride due to apathy on the part of the respective ministries, said a high official at the planning commission who wished not to be named.
Some 468 projects are ongoing in the current fiscal year. Among these, 326 are priority one projects, 120 are priority two and 22 are priority three projects.
Procedural snags, red tape, a flawed Public Procurement Act, an inefficient bureaucracy and lack of a carrot and stick approach have conributed to slow progress with the national pride projects, according to the official.
According to the planning commission, only 99 of the priority one projects have recorded 80 percent progress, whereas 109 of them have registered low progress. Likewise, some 27 projects under priority one have made little or no progress. Prime Minister K P Oli, during the 36th meeting of the National Development Action Commitee on Tuesday, admitted that the ministries have failed to perform.
Of the national pride projects, Pokhara International Airport is the star performer. It has recorded 92 percent progress. The project has achieved its target for land acquisition, compensation distribution and loan agreements in the current fiscal year. It claimed that it has met almost all its target for the fiscal year. The Tarai-Madhes Chure Conservation Programme, Karnali Highway, Kaligandagi and Koshi corridor and Rani Jamara Kularia Irrigation Project have registered over 50 percent progress.
By contrast, the worst performers are the 700-MW West Seti Storage Hydropower Project and Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track, according to the planning commission, which also says that some of the projects that have been hit by the devastating earthquake have yet to get back on track.