Province MPs express qualms about implementation of budget

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By Our Correspondent,Urlabari, June 17: Provincial Assembly Members of Koshi Province have expressed their doubt in effective implementation of the budget presented for the fiscal year 2024/25.

Minister for Economic Affairs and Planning of Koshi Province government Ram Bahadur Magar presented a budget of Rs. 35.27 billion for the next fiscal year 2024/25 at the Provincial Assembly on Saturday.

Sobha Chemjong Palungwa, Provincial Assembly Member of the opposition party Nepali Congress in the Koshi Province, said that the budget was prepared from the centre instead of collecting the plans through the project bank. 

“There was not enough discussion before preparing budget. Looking at the nature of the budget, the province government is still dependent on the federal government. There is no budget to strengthen the provincial government and increase the internal revenue,” she said.

“It is not clear to what extent will the budget increase agricultural production, how much industrial output can be increased and how many tourists will be brought in the next fiscal year.”

She said that the budget should be based on development priorities.

The Koshi Province government has allocated a budget of Rs. 14.47 billion for recurrent expenditure, Rs. 16.2 billion for capital expenditure, Rs. 20 million for financial management and Rs. 4.585 billion for financial transfer to the local levels. 

Umakanta Gautam, Provincial Assembly Member of Koshi Province from CPN-UML said that there would be problem in budget implementation. 

“Rs. 11 billion payments of the previous year are yet to be made. In the upcoming budget. Around Rs. 16.2 billion has been allocated under capital budget heading. This budget does not seem to be able to spend more than Rs. 5 billion for new projects,” he said. 

Emphasising on the need to bring a programme to increase the internal resources of the provincial government, he said that the budget did not focus on it.

“Yesterday, we protested that the kings and the Panchayat increased the budget on the basis of being close to certain people. We have changed the system, but even now there has been no change in the pattern of budget allocation. The budget revolves around the constituencies of ministers and big leaders,” he said.

Durga Prasad Chapagain, Provincial Assembly Member of Koshi Province, said that the budget was unveiled at without any discussion even between the ruling coalition parties. 

“There should have been sufficient discussion before the budget. That didn't happen. Due to the large number of payment obligations of the multi-year projects decided in the previous year, there are some challenges in implementation,” said Chapagain who elected from CPN Maoist centre.

“Until the government is stable, there are also problems in the implementation of the budget,” he said.

Provincial Assembly Member of Koshi Province from CPN (Unified Socialist) Bidya Chamling Rai expressed concern over the implementation of the budget and opposed the practice of using provincial assembly members only in the process of government formation. 

She said that there was no discussion on preparing the budget and said that the practice of allocating budget only in the constituencies of big leaders and powerful people should be stopped. 

“All the MPs have come to say that they will work for development in their constituencies. This tradition must end.”

The province has set a target to mobilise Rs. 4.98 billion from the internal revenue of the province, Rs. 12.44 billion from the revenue distribution received from the federal government, Rs. 8.94 billion for fiscal equalisation, and Rs. 4.16 billion for conditional grants.

Similarly, around Rs. 655 billion will be received from the federal government as supplementary grant and Rs. 780 million as special grant.

Of the remaining shortfall, Rs. 3.25 billion will be covered from the remaining cash balance and Rs. 105.9 million will be arranged from foreign grants.

The Koshi Provincial government has allocated a maximum budget of Rs. 10.41 billion for infrastructure development, Rs. 4.76 billion for drinking water and energy, Rs. 3.58 billion for health, Rs. 2.67 billion for agriculture, Rs. 1.58 billion for social sector, and Rs. 2.82 billion for tourism, forest and environment for the next fiscal year. 

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