Confusion looms over local level budget due to political differencesLocal governments that presented the budget at the tail end of the current fiscal year are gearing up to announce their spending plan on time—but all is not guaranteed
KATHMANDU : After presenting the budget for the current fiscal year 2018-19 just one and a half months ago, Bhagawanpur Rural Municipality Chairman Bechan Prasad Yadav is still not sure whether he would be able to present the budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 on time.
Yadav, who was elected from then Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal (now Samajbadi Party Nepal), does not have a majority in the executive committee of the rural municipality.
He said the budget could not be presented in time due to non-cooperation from the elected representatives of then CPN (UML), now the ruling Nepal Communist Party, seeking appointments in various committees of the rural municipality.
The rural municipality presented its budget for the current fiscal year on May 3.
Although the Samajbadi Party Nepal and the Nepal Communist Party are coalition partners in the federal government, differences between them at the local level have resulted in budget presentation delay.
“We have now planned to present the next fiscal year’s budget on June 24. The elected representatives from other parties have assured cooperation,” said Chairman Yadav. “But I cannot guarantee that until it is presented.” As per the Act on Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangement, local level budget for the upcoming fiscal year should be presented by June 25.
As differences continue to persist between the two parties at the local level, Chairman Yadav is still doubtful about presenting the budget on time.
The two parties are engaged in a dispute over the appointments in Education Committee and Natural Disaster Management Committee of the rural municipality. The budget for the current fiscal year was presented after suspending appointments in these committees.
According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, around a dozen local governments had not presented their budget until two months ago.
An official at the ministry said they have not updated the status since then.
There is a doubt whether these local governments will be able to present their budget for the fiscal year 20198-20 on time owing to political and other reasons.
Presentation of the annual budget was delayed by two years in a row in Pokhariya Municipality in Parsa. The budget of the current fiscal year was presented on October 5, 2018, just ahead of the Dashain festival.
Its Mayor Dip Narayan Prasad Rauniyar was elected from the little known Nepal Sanghiya Samajbadi Party headed by Rijwan Ansari.
Officials said non-cooperation from other parties such as the Nepali Congress and the then Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal had contributed in delay in budget presentation.
Deputy Mayor at the municipality Salma Khatun, who is from then Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum, said that there are still differences with Mayor Rauniyar.
“There have been talks about presenting the budget on time considering the delays of the previous two years.”
Nathuni Prasad, chairman of Kalikamai Rural Municipality in Parsa, who was elected from Nepal Sanghiya Samajbadi Party, said it is not easy for him to work with elected representatives from big parties.
“Because of the status of my party as a fringe party, initially there were efforts to undermine my initiatives. But I have managed to get them to work together by being more accommodative,” he said.
Kalikamai also presented its budget just two months ago which, according to chairman Prasad, is due to the frequent change of chief administrative officer instead of political differences. He expects to present the budget for the next fiscal year on time.
But he said that the rural municipality was yet to receive the plans and programmes from one or two wards which may cause delays in budget presentation. Another local government that presented budget late is Katahari Municipality of Rautahat district.
Its mayor Siyaram Kushwaha, who was sentenced to life on a murder charge by the Birgunj-based Janakpur High Court in March last year, was released in December at the Supreme Court’s order.
“During his jail term, he didn’t allow us to hold a meeting of the municipal assembly to present the budget,” said Deputy Mayor Nurjaha Khatun. “Since his release from prison, he has been taking decisions without any consultation with me. I don’t know when the budget will be presented and where the meeting would be organised.”
Both mayor and deputy mayor were elected from then CPN (Maoist Centre).