Four dozen local units yet to present budgetWhen a majority of government staff and employees from the private sector celebrated Dashain with festival allowance last month, officials at Bhagabanpur Rural Municipality in Siraha were deprived of salary as the local unit has yet to present its annual budget.
When a majority of government staff and employees from the private sector celebrated Dashain with festival allowance last month, officials at Bhagabanpur Rural Municipality in Siraha were deprived of salary as the local unit has yet to present its annual budget.
Teachers, health workers and employees at the rural municipality have not been paid since the fiscal year began in mid-July mainly due to infighting among the elected representatives.
Bhagabanpur is among the four dozen local governments that have not presented the budget until now. The Inter-Governmental Fiscal Arrangement Act required them to table the budget for the 2018-19 fiscal at the Village or Municipal Assembly by June 24.
Bachchan Prasad Yadav, chairperson at the rural municipality, complained that they were unable to run their bank account in the absence of budget. “Hence, teachers, health workers and staffers at the rural municipality and its wards have not received their salary for the last four months,” he told the Post.
At the heart of the problem lie political differences among the elected representatives. Yadav, who was elected for the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, does not have a clear majority at the local council. He depends on representatives from other parties to endorse decisions.
“Although I sought development plans from the wards in June, those headed by the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) didn’t send them, creating difficulty in presenting the budget,” Yadav complained. According to him, differences between his party and the NCP at the local level over the purchase of construction equipment such as roller, tipper and bulldozer with the municipal funds last fiscal year had delayed the spending plan.
“Finally, we have reached an understanding to call a meeting of the village assembly soon to present the budget,” he told the Post. Budget has already been delayed by more than five months. The Finance Ministry has already released the salary of federal staff as conditional grant to local governments. Each local unit incorporates such grants in the budget. Spending is possible only when the municipal council endorses the estimate.
“Since we cannot spend the budget, development works in the rural municipality have been halted,” said Yadav.
Federal Affairs and General Administration, most of the local governments that have yet to table their budget are from Province 2. According to the ministry, one third of the local governments in the plains province are yet to present their budgets. Ministry Spokesperson Suresh Adhikari blamed the problem chiefly on political disputes.
Lately, some of the local governments have started unveiling their budget. Pokhariya Municipality in Parsa presented its fiscal estimates on October 5, just ahead of Dashain. The document enabled the local unit to pay its staff.
Mayor Dip Narayan Prasad Rauniyar, who was elected for the little known Nepal Sanghiya Samajwadi Party headed by Rijwan Ansari, complained that he had failed to receive the support of other parties that have a majority in both the local executive and assembly.
“Wards headed by other parties such as the Nepali Congress and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal sought more funds than the budget ceiling set for them. This issue took time to settle,” Rauniyar told the Post.
Garuda Municipality in Rautahat also presented its budget for the current fiscal year on September 26, just ahead of the Dashain festival. “Government employees had not been getting their salary as the municipality was not in a position even to pay for emergency relief. We were unable even to collect taxes without budget,” said Tek Raj Panthi, chief administrative officer at the municipality.