Delay in getting NPC approval despite early budgetDespite early budget presentation, the process of getting programmes and projects approved by the National Planning Commission (NPC) began only after the beginning of the new fiscal year 2016-17, dampening hopes of better capital expenditure.
Despite early budget presentation, the process of getting programmes and projects approved by the National Planning Commission (NPC) began only after the beginning of the new fiscal year 2016-17, dampening hopes of better capital expenditure.
There is a tradition of ministries taking months to get their programmes approved by the NPC. As the contract awarding process begins only after the NPC endorses the projects, any delay in getting the approval delays budget implementation.
According to NPC officials, most of the ministries have not yet forwarded details of their programmes with spending plans for every four months. “Not a single ministry I oversee has submitted programmes for approval so far,” Gopi Nath Mainali, joint secretary at the NPC told Post on Wednesday.
Mainali looks after Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Information and Commun-ication, Industry, Commerce and Supply Ministries.
The Finance Ministry said it dispatched authorisation letters to ministries last Friday, asking the latter to get all their Priority 1 (P1) programmes and projects approved by from NPC by July 22. “We still have two days, but based on current progress, the approval process is likely to take some more days,” said Mukunda Paudyal, spokesperson for the Finance Ministry.
The Finance Ministry, in its authorisation letter, has asked the ministries not to transfer budget from one heading to another until mid-March 2017 and return the budget allocated to projects that fail to spend resources by mid-April 2017, he said. If the programme approval process had been started right after the budget presentation, the budget cycle could have moved much earlier, helping to start construction works earlier than usual.
Former Finance Secretary Rameshore Khanal recently told the Post that nothing prevents the government from getting projects approved by the NPC before the beginning of new fiscal year if the budget is presented earlier.
But government officials said the NPC cannot issue the approval until the Parliament endorsees the new budget. “Last year, programmes and projects were approved by the NPC before full budget endorsement by the Parliament because the Advance Expenditure Bill passed by the House had authorised the government to spend one-third of the budget,” said Paudyal.
“This year, the Advance Expenditure Bill was not presented in the Parliament and the government had to wait for the endorsement of the Appropriation Bill before the ministries could be able to send the programmes for NPC approval,” he added.
The Appropriation Bill was passed by the Parliament around two weeks ago.
Considering a possible delay in the approval process, the NPC had asked the ministries to make necessary preparations before the beginning of new fiscal year so that they could submit their programmes and projects for approval in the first week of the new fiscal year.
“We will write another letter on Sunday to the ministries if they fail to send their programmes for approval by then,” said Mainali.