CIAA directs all governments not to allocate funds for half-baked projectsWarns public officials of action if they disburse budget by abusing their authority.
The mismanagement of budgets of the three layers of government has been a persistent problem since the 2017 elections institutionalised a federal structure. Now the constitutional anti-graft body wants to do something about it.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority has suggested that the three layers end bad practices that are bleeding the government treasury, warning that anti-graft bodies could take action against unscrupulous officials.
Sending a 22-point suggestion to the federal, provincial and local governments, the corruption watchdog said several anomalies in budget preparation and execution phases are promoting the misuse of public funds.
The CIAA made its suggestions public after sending them to all governments at the federal, provincial and local levels. As the CIAA has the legal mandate to caution the government to improve governance, it sent its suggestions to the three layers of government based on its investigations on various complaints, said Bhola Dahal, the CIAA spokesman. “It is the government’s duty to implement those suggestions.”
As per the suggestions, the governments need to put ready-to-go projects into a bank and only such projects should get funds.
The bank should have only those projects that are viable financially, technically and environmentally, one of the suggestions says. “Only the projects for which land has been acquired, approval granted for forest clearance, and environment impact assessment completed should be banked.”
The public offices must confirm the status of project readiness before issuing a tender notice, according to the suggestions. “If necessary, government staff should be deployed to the project site to confirm the readiness,” the CIAA said.
The anti-graft body has also called for an end to the practice of implementing projects that are not in the annual budget but are added later.
“Such a practice goes against the financial procedure envisioned in the constitution, and the Fiscal Procedures & Financial Accountability Act,” the suggestion reads. “It also leads to the abuse of authority.”
In particular, the CIAA is concerned about the tendency of keeping a large chunk of the outlay under unspecified headings in the budget, with the intent of pumping that money into projects that are later added.
The watchdog warned that those responsible for such practice could be punished.
The CIAA also points out anomalies in ensuring long-term resources for projects that are not ready for implementation. “Multi-year contract is being awarded to implement such projects after obtaining a resources guarantee from the finance ministry,” the CIAA said. “This trend has created unlimited budget liability at all three layers of the government.”
The CIAA suggested implementing the projects under multi-year contracts in a justified manner. It also called for ending the practice of creating new institutions through minister-level decisions and creating various positions that are increasing the governments’ financial liability. “Such a practice is against the law and leads to the misuse of public money,” the CIAA said.
The anti-graft body issued such directives even in the past. “Besides issuing suggestions directly to government agencies, we also give suggestions through our annual report,” said Dahal.