Government records poor capital expenditure in the first quarterSpending totalled Rs18.37 billion out of the Rs408 billion budget as of mid-October.
Government spending on development works reached 4.41 percent of the allocated budget as of the first quarter of the fiscal year, recording slower expenditure than during the same period last year.
The government has allocated Rs408 billion for the construction of infrastructure for the current fiscal year. According to records of the Financial Comptroller General Office, the government was able to spend only Rs18.37 billion of the capital budget during the period mid-July to mid-October.
The government has allocated a total budget of Rs1.53 trillion for the current fiscal year. Under the recurrent expenditure heading, the government has spent 16.38 percent of the allocated budget of Rs957 billion.
Government expenditure has fallen short of the target almost every year. In the last fiscal year, the government was able to spend 73.4 percent of the total development budget. In the first three months of 2018-19, the government had spent only Rs17.29 billion, or 5.5 percent of the allocated budget of Rs313.99 billion. By mid-January, capital expenditure rose to 17.68 percent while the government had spent 16.4 percent in the last one week alone.
Slow first quarter spending indicates that most of the expenditure will likely be bunched up in the second half of the fiscal year, raising questions over the quality of work.
The 56th annual report of the Financial Comptroller General Office shows that the government had spent 40 percent of the total capital budget of Rs108 billion in the final month of 2017-18.
Uttar Kumar Khatri, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said government bodies are usually busy devising plans and preparing for developing procurement procedures in the first quarter. “They have now almost finished formulating new work guidelines, amending the existing work guidelines and tender documents, and selecting contractors for their projects,” said Khatri.
Although a constitutional provision has been created to allow the government to issue the budget statement one and a half months in advance, it has routinely been failing to meet the capital expenditure target. Rushed construction in the last quarter of the fiscal year every time has raised questions over the quality of the work.
Amid criticism that the two-thirds majority government has also failed to boost capital spending, it has usually defended its actions saying that it is focusing on drafting and revising laws as required.
Khatri claimed that the government was continuously making efforts to improve its development spending capacity. According to him, capital expenditure in the current fiscal year will speed up after the Tihar festival.