Unconvinced, Finance Ministry seeks details of SAARC expenses

Various government agencies have failed to submit ‘convincing details’ of their expenditure during the SAARC Summit held in November in Kathmandu, triggering speculations that there were financial irregularities in the name of summit preparations. 

The Ministry of Finance has refused to release around Rs 24 million after various government agencies, including Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA) failed to provide ‘convincing’ details of expenditure. KMC and KVDA each have claimed to have spent Rs 85 million and Rs 90.04 million, respectively, in the name of summit preparations. 

While KMC was entrusted with beautifying the city, KVDA under Ministry of Urban Development was entrusted with planting trees along the Tinkune-Maitighar stretch and construction of parks at Tinkune and Narayanchaur. 

KMC Spokesperson Shanta Ram Pokharel said they are preparing the details of expenditure. “We came to know that the finance ministry has sought expenditure details from the local development ministry. We will submit the details in 2-3 days,” he told Republica. The KVDA Development Commissioner YK Parajuli also said they are currently preparing the expenditure details.

Senior officials at finance ministry said they have also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to submit details of expenditure as it demanded Rs 50 million-nearly 20 million more than the estimated budget. “We have asked MoFA to provide the expenditure details as we are not convinced. The amount they have demanded is much higher than the estimate,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

The finance ministry has also not released Rs 8 million spent by Dhulikhel municipality for the construction of two helipads in Dwarika Hotel Resort in Dhulikhel. “We have sought the details of the tender process and expenditure,” the official further said. The Nepal Army (NA) had constructed the helipads.
Interestingly, the home ministry and defense ministry have demanded Rs 15.4 million for food allowance to security personnel deputed in the SAARC Summit for two days. “We have yet to release the budget as the demand seems inflated. We have sought expenditure details for this too,” added the official.

Of the total Rs 1.87 billion said to have been spent for SAARC preparations, the finance ministry has so far released Rs 1.63 billion. This includes Rs 345 million to the Ministry of Home, Rs 24.7 million to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rs 19.7 million to the Ministry for Information and Communications, Rs 126.3 million to the Ministry of Defense, Rs 254.1 million to Ministry of Urban Development, Rs 30.2 million to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviations, Rs 2.5 million to the Ministry of Industry, Rs 1.5 million to the Ministry of Commerce and Supply. 

Source: Republica