KATHMANDU, APR 20 – The Ministry of Energy (MoE), which received one of the highest budget allocations in the current fiscal year, has managed to spend just 36 percent of the funds as of mid-April. It said that its line agencies had so far been able to use a mere Rs12.42 billion out of its massive spending budget of Rs34.17 billion.
Energy Minister Radha Gyawali said that the ministry and line agencies could not make proper utilization of the budget following political instability which hindered a number of projects, lack of coordination between line ministries and several bureaucratic and procedural hassles.
“Our aim of ending load-shedding in the country isn’t possible without making proper utilization of resources,” Gyawali said.
The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), which received the largest portion of the ministry’s budget of Rs30.29 billion, has so far succeeded in spending just Rs10.31 billion. This represents 34 percent of the total amount.
According to Mukesh Kafle, managing director of the NEA, the state-owned power utility has failed to make proper expenditure of the budget following its failure to make a significant move in developing transmission lines.
“A significant chunk of the budget has been allocated for transmission line development. However, there has been no progress due to a number of issues including land acquisition,” Kafle said.
The budget for the current fiscal year has earmarked Rs12.62 billion for electricity generation and Rs13.55 billion for transmission line construction. Kafle said that a large chunk of the amount allocated for transmission line projects had been set aside for land acquisition. The budget goes to the NEA under the financing heading as it is government investment.
The NEA has stated that though the expenditure has remained dismal so far, it is aiming to spend 70 percent of the resources by the end of the current fiscal year. “A majority of the expenditure is made in the fourth quarter. Considering the progress so far, we are sure spending will reach at least 70 percent,” Kafle said.
According to Kafle, Rs400-Rs500 million will be spent on the 30 MW Chameliya Hydropower Project after it gets clearance from the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. The PAC had found out a huge misappropriation of funds in the project and had subsequently directed the government not to make any further payments until the investigation over the overall scam had been cleared.
The NEA, which has asked for Rs39.55 billion in the upcoming budget in line with the ceiling fixed for it, has stated that it will mostly give continuity to the projects it is implementing during the current fiscal year and plans to execute three micro hydro projects and a solar power plant project. The Department of Electricity Development (DoED), which received the second highest budget of Rs2.87 billion, has spent Rs1.48 billion, or 52 percent of the resources allocated.
Likewise, the Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project Development Committee and the Nalsingadh Hydropower Development Committee have spent 40 percent and 5 percent of the resources allocated to them respectively. The projects received Rs572.25 million and Rs256.92 million respectively.
Despite being able to spend a huge chunk of the amount allocated to it, the MoE has already submitted its resource allocation plan for the next fiscal year based on the budget ceiling of Rs44.85 billion set by the National Planning Commission (NPC).
Source : eKantipur