Leaders spar over fundsPrime Minister K P Oli and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal disagree on continuing constituency development funds.
Prime Minister K P Oli and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal disagree on continuing constituency development funds.
Officials at the Prime Minister Office told the Post that Oli strongly opposes disbursing funds to lawmakers. The PM says MPs’ job is to form laws and their focus should be on making policies. Dahal has the opposite view.
The two contentious funds are Constituency Develop-ment Fund (CDF) and Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme (CISP).
Some lawmakers demand these two funds should continue. Our lawmakers are not like American Senators whose job is to prepare laws and discuss policy-making topics, but they have a role in development activities as they have won the elections promising a lot of development works, Dahal has recently told the PM.
Some have suggested taking the middle path and work out solution to fund developmental activities under the CISP and CDF, officials said. They said they are intense pressure from lawmakers to ensure funds for their constituencies.
Officials at the PMO and the Finance Ministry are working on a solution for this issue.
Some have expressed their concerns over misuse of funds, if released now. Their concerns are over spending money for developmental projects from the budget. The quality of work in projects done in haste, in the last months of the fiscal year, was bad, they said.
Lawmakers insist on releasing funds for these two heads allocated in the current fiscal year as well as budget them for next year.
Under pressure from the lawmakers, three weeks ago the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration had proposed to the Cabinet.
Citing lack of resources, the Finance Ministry opposed the proposal saying funding existing projects requires a huge amount this fiscal year.
The Prime Minister’s Press Advisor Kundan Aryal said, “Top political leaders are currently discussing the CISP and CDF. I do not see any chance of releasing funds for this fiscal year. For the next fiscal year, officials are working for some kind of middle path on how to continue the CDF by making lawmakers responsible and accountable.”
Finance Minister Yubraj Khatiwada, senior Finance Ministry officials and officials at Ministry of Local Development oppose funds for lawmakers. In the past some MPs hugely misused funds.
Reports from the Office of the Auditor General and Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration point out huge irregularities and fragmentation of funds mostly channelised through the consumer’s groups and NGOs that largely go unaccounted. Many projects under these two heads have not reached the target groups and the money was disbursed between various stakeholders without following due procedure.
Cross-party lawmakers have demanded budgeting Rs100 million for each electoral constituency under the CISP and Rs 5 million for each lawmaker both from House of Representatives and the National Assembly under the CDP for the next fiscal year.
The two programmes have raised many questions after the state coffers spent huge amounts on non-productive sectors.
Currently, an MP can spend Rs5 million under the CDP, while Rs 30 million is allocated under the CISP. Those elected under the FPTP system can use both the CISP and CDP funds, while those from the Upper House and elected under the proportional representation can only use CDP funds.
Ruling party lawmakers lead the demand to budget funds for these two funds despite questions over need when the country now has elected representatives at the provincial and local and levels.
UML lawmaker Rambir Manandhar, pushing for additional budget, said UML started these two funds and scrapping them would be disastrous for the party in the next elections.
“These programmes are necessary for lawmakers to establish link with people as they have made tall promises to them,” he said.
He said that the government should not stop the funds as the parliament has already endorsed the budgeted allocation. “We will raise this issue in the party strongly,” he said.
The government allocated Rs10 billion for the two programmes in the current fiscal year. Most of it remains unspent due to intervention from the Election Commission first and then the Supreme Court, citing the elections.