Energy sector not in budget priority

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    KATHMANDU, May 4:

    Ministry of FinanceHydropower development is the government´s top priority but budget allocations shows otherwise. Although the budget allocated for the hydropower sector appears larger than allocations for other sectors but additional budget received in foreign aid and loans mostly goes unspent. 

    This time around, the National Planning Commission (NPC) that fixes budget ceiling has brought down the ceiling by 30 percent despite the fact that the sector has been listed as a ´priority sector´. 

    A highly-placed official at the Ministry of Energy (MoE) claimed that hydropower sector ranks eighth in terms of budget allocation.

    For the upcoming fiscal year, NPC has suggested to the government to collect over Rs 17 billion of the total Rs 32 billion through loans and grants allocated for the sector. It is believed that hydropower development would contribute to improve the country´s ailing economic health. 

    An NPC official has criticized the MoE for failing to spend the budget allocated for community electrification to the ministry. 

    Another source at MoE said the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has sought about Rs 30 billion for the upcoming fiscal year even as the NPC has set a ceiling of Rs 27 billion. 

    Surendra Rajbhandari, director at Corporate Planning and Monitoring Division of NEA, complained that government allocates over two-thirds of the budget through foreign loans and grants which goes unspent as they are allocated for the projects that fail to make progress. 

    Rajbhandari further pointed out that while projects that are under study get more budget than required, those under construction do not get adequate budget. 

    “In several cases, the budget goes unspent. According to the new budget plan, the government will allocate only Rs 10 billion for the construction of transmission lines though much of the budget for this comes through foreign loans and grants. 

    “Without tangible progress on projects, foreign loans and grants become useless,” said an engineer at NEA.

    Source : Republica