Poor capital expenditure in the first quarter as observed by the Government records

Poor capital expenditure in the first quarter as observed by the Government records

Government spending on progressive works reached 4.41 percent of the allocated budget as of the first quarter of the financial year, recording slower expenditure as compared to the previous financial year.

The government has allocated Rs. 408 billion for the construction of infrastructure for the current financial year. As per the records of the Financial Comptroller General Office, the government was able to spend only Rs.18.37 billion of the capital budget during the period mid-July to mid-October.

The government has allocated a total budget of Rs1.53 trillion for the current financial year. Under the recurrent expenditure heading, the government has spent 16.38 percent of the allocated budget of Rs. 957 billion.

Government expenditure has fallen short of the target almost every year. In the last financial year, the government was able to spend 73.4 percent of the total development budget. In the first quarter of the year 2018-19, the government had spent only Rs. 17.29 billion, or 5.5 percent of the allocated budget of Rs. 313.99 billion. By mid-January, capital expenditure raised to 17.68 percent while the government had spent 16.4 percent in the last week itself.

The minimum utilization in the first-quarter signifies that most of the expenditure will probably be bunched up in the second half of the financial year, putting questions over the quality of work.

The 56th annual report of the Financial Comptroller General Office reveals that the government had spent 40 percent of the total capital budget of Rs.108 billion in the final month of 2017-18.

Uttar Kumar Khatri, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said government bodies are normally busy devising plans and preparing for developing procurement procedures in the first quarter. They have now almost completed formulating new work guidelines, revising the existing work guidelines and tender documents, and selecting contractors for their projects.

Although a constitutional provision has been designed to allow the government to issue the budget statement one and a half months in advance, it has routinely been slipping to reach the capital expenditure target. Rushed construction in the last quarter of the financial year every time has put questions over the quality of the work.

Among criticism that the two-thirds majority government has also failed to boost capital spending, it has normally defended its actions stating that it is concentrating on drafting and amending laws as required.

Khatri alleged that the government was continuously making attempts to enhance its development spending capacity. As per him, capital expenditure in the current financial year will speed up following the Tihar festival.

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