New municipalities to add Rs 2b burden on government

The government will have to endure an additional financial burden of Rs 2 billion in different grants to be provided to 72 newly-declared municipalities. “The allocations amount to Rs 3 billion, but if we subtract the grants the new municipalities had been receiving while they were VDCs, the additional amount needed will be Rs 2 billion,” said Dinesh Thapaliya, spokesperson for the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development.

Following creation of the new municipalities, the number of VDCs has come down by 283. Municipalities receive seven types of grants from the central government, including municipality grant, local development fund, grant from the road board, funds from revenue sharing, agriculture road grant, and grants from the town development fund and other various programmers from the Ministry of Urban Development.

“We are also holding discussions with the donors in order to introduce new programmes in the new municipalities,” said Thapaliya. VDCs are eligible to get VDC grants from the centre. According to Thapaliya, each new municipality is expected to receive more than Rs 20 million. Existing municipalities receive at least Rs 30 million each currently. MoFALD officials are holding discussions with the Finance Ministry on financial and human resources for the newly-declared municipalities. Besides providing funds, the government has also planned to provide waste management equipment and vehicles for collecting wastes from households. “We, however, will not allow new hiring for operating the equipment and vehicles. They should do it under the public private partnership model,” said Thapaliya.

“The government operating the equipment have proven unfeasible.” Existing municipalities have been getting these facilities since the last fiscal year. The government had declared the new municipalities based on the population, resources, infrastructure and status of the urbanisation.

The criteria for an area to be declared municipality were population of 10,000 for mountain region and more than 20,000 for hilly and plain regions, annual resource collection of Rs 5 million, access to road, electricity, drinking water and other infrastructure, among others. Meanwhile, the Local Development Ministry has recommended the three types of staffing structure in the new municipalities based on the population size and the number of wards. In municipalities with more than 50,000 population, an under-secretary will lead the staff.

There are five such new municipalities, including Birtamod, Attariya and Kohalpur. Other officials include an account officer, two engineers, two officers with one revenue officer, and two other employees. The central government will make available under secretaries and account officers, while rest of the employees will be hired by the local government as per the requirement. A municipality with more than 20,000 population and more than 13 wards will be led by an officer. Other employees include an engineer, an officer and three other lower-level employees. And, municipalities with less than 20,000 population will be led by an officer, while other staff members include an accountant, an engineer and assistants. “The inclusion of engineers and employees looking after revenue has been made mandatory in the staffing plan for new municipalities as they were one of the weaknesses of existing municipalities,” said Thapaliya.

Source: The Kathmandu Post