Budget cut likely to hamper project execution in Karnali Province


By Rajani Yogi Surkhet, June 18: In the upcoming fiscal year, the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture, and Cooperatives of Karnali Province faces scaling back its plans due to budget cuts. Following a reduction in the annual budget allocation, several planned initiatives are now slated for reduction.

The Ministry of Agriculture's budget for the fiscal year 2024/25, presented by Minister of Economic Affairs and Planning Mahendra KC to the State Assembly last Saturday, has been set at Rs. 1.86 billion, marking a reduction of approximately 25 million rupees from the current fiscal year's allocation of Rs. 2.011 billion.

The ministry, tasked with promoting the concept of an organic province, administers its budget through 33 offices and two directorates. However, the decreased budget size necessitates cuts across many programmes. Current programmes encompass land management, Guthi management, agricultural and animal development promotion, and cooperative initiatives. With the reduced budget, the ministry anticipates scaling down several smaller programmes, focusing on maintaining effectiveness in land and livestock management, while limiting the implementation of new agricultural and livestock development initiatives.

Raju Bhuj, head of the ministry's planning unit, highlighted the challenges posed by budget cuts, noting potential disruptions to planned activities. He emphasized that the ministry's ability to implement its plans had been compromised by the reduced financial allocation.

The ministry has seen weak budget execution in the current fiscal year, with only 49 per cent of the capital budget utilized thus far. Despite adopting policies to expedite development budget spending by April, adherence to these policies has been lacking.

In the ongoing fiscal year, three multi-year plans have been approved and are progressing towards implementation. Construction is underway for district agriculture development offices in Rukum West and Mugu, alongside advancements in establishing a nitrogen plant.

A significant portion of the agriculture budget is allocated to irrigation schemes, with around 90 schemes, varying in scale, slated for implementation this year. However, with a projected budget reduction of approximately 250 million rupees in the next fiscal year, fewer schemes are expected to proceed compared to the current year, posing greater challenges for implementing smaller-scale initiatives.

Ram Bhakta Adhikari, information officer of the ministry, emphasized the ministry's commitment to prioritizing agricultural and livestock development initiatives, alongside the organic mission, despite constrained budgetary resources.

For the upcoming fiscal year, the Karnali state government has proposed a total budget of Rs. 31.041 billion, down from Rs. 33.379 billion in the current fiscal year, citing reduced internal revenue and federal subsidy as contributing factors. The reduction in the state's overall budget is expected to directly impact ministries, necessitating stringent budget management. 

How did you feel after reading this news?