Guideline allows MPs to execute 20 projects in single constituencyGoing against the budgetary provision, the government on Friday endorsed the working procedure of Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Programme, which not only increased the number of projects, but also allowed lawmakers to have their say in project selection.
Going against the budgetary provision, the government on Friday endorsed the working procedure of Local Infrastructure Development Partnership Programme, which not only increased the number of projects, but also allowed lawmakers to have their say in project selection.
Government officials said the working procedure has effectively ended the efforts to make the programme less distributive, as it has allowed federal lawmakers to execute as many as 20 projects in a single constituency.
The programme is modified version of controversial Constituency Infrastructure Special Programme (CISP) and the Constituency Development Programme (CDP) implemented through lawmakers.
According to officials at the Federal Affairs Ministry, the option of selecting as many as 20 projects goes against the current fiscal year budget that states maximum of five projects related to road, drinking water, irrigation and river control could be carried out in one constituency.
While drafting the working procedure, the ministry had proposed for selecting maximum 10 projects within five areas. However, after a strong pressure from the lawmakers, the number was doubled to 20.
“We tried hard to keep the project numbers not more than 15, but we failed to convince the lawmakers,” said an official at the ministry. “This has also increased the risk of fragmentation of resources.”
The working procedure has once again opened the door for federal lawmakers to use their discretionary power in selection of the projects to be implemented under LIDPP.
After a strong lobby from lawmakers, it has given sole authority to select the projects to a committee headed by directly elected lawmaker and represented by parliamentarians from proportional representation and the lawmaker in the National Assembly. This goes against the provision of the current budget which had envisioned forming a committee co-ordinated by directly elected representative from particular constituency and represented by members of federal parliament, provincial parliaments and heads of the local governments.
Amid complaints that the discretionary power given to lawmakers under CISP and CDP allowed them to misuse the fund, the budget had involved more stakeholders to select and monitor the projects.
“Lawmakers argued that they should either have no role at all or a decisive one. They were of the view that the programme which is implemented in their names will not have any meaning if they are not given adequate authority,” the ministry official said.
Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Lal Babu Pandit defended the working procedure stating that there would not be much fragmentation of resources as the working procedure has the provision stating there should be at least one project with the cost of least Rs5 million and other projects should have the cost of at least Rs1 million.
“Due to this provision, resource will not be available to implement 20 projects despite opening this option,” Pandit said.
The budget for current fiscal year has allocated Rs40million for each constituency under this programme.
The working procedure has also kept the door open for adding the resources from the provincial lawmakers and the local governments to implement this programme.
According to the ministry officials, the federal parliament lawmakers argued that limiting the projects into just five projects as provisioned in the budget comes with the risk of the projects becoming too big making them impossible to be implemented within a year.
Lawmakers were of the view that big projects should be implemented through contractor, which goes against the concept of people’s participation in implementation process.
In the past, budget allocated under CISP and CDP was fragmented into small projects. But the provision had failed to bring good results in project implementation, according to report of the Office of Auditor General (OAG).
Another committee also headed by directly elected lawmaker and represented by provincial lawmakers and heads of local governments will be responsible for preparing standard for selection of projects, according to the working procedure.
But discretionary power given to lawmakers has been misused, according to the reports of OAG. A special audit conducted by the OAG in fiscal year 2016-17 found that the projects related to political parties and their sister organisations as well as non-government organisations related to political parties were selected going against the norm. As many as 126 such projects worth Rs53.51 million were selected in 11 districts, according to the OAG report.