Development Works At The Eleventh Hour
Development is a continuous process. Every country allocates a budget every year for the initiation of development works or projects. Nepal is also engaging in development works through allocation of the budget for various sectors. The fiscal year starts in the country in Shrawan and ends in Asadh. The budget is, therefore, generally formulated for one fiscal year.
Formulating the budget is not a big deal as is its release for spending on development and other works. Although the budget is supposed to be released in Shrawan itself, it takes five or six months for release due to the lengthy bureaucratic process. After the release of the budget after a long delay, it takes time to draw up plans for spending the budget. So development works normally begin in Baisakh or Jestha.
The concerned bodies find it heavy going to spend the budget in two or three months. As such, development works take place at the eleventh hour in haste. In the process, nobody has time to check the quality of work. Their main concern is how to spend the budget before the start of the next fiscal year.
This phenomenon recurs every year. Even now, development works are taking place, compromising the very quality of work. There are instances where even well-pitched roads are blacktopped again just for the sake of spending the budget by ignoring the roads in disrepair that actually need to be blacktopped.
Initiating development works is essential for the prosperity of the country. But the point is development works should be initiated after thoroughly analysing where such works need to be carried on and which works should be accorded priority. The current trend shows that development works are taking place in a haphazard way. This has resulted in the misuse of the budget on the one hand and misprioritisation of development works on the other. In both cases, the country and the people have suffered a lot.
The government formulates the budget every year. But implementation of the budgetary provisions has been found to be grossly neglected. Bureaucratic hassles and red tape are largely to blame for such a situation. That a large chunk of the development budget is lying idle in the state coffers is testimony to such an unpleasant situation.
There are many things to do in the country. Infrastructure development is still lacking in the country. But it is an irony that the country has not been able to spend even the allocated budget. Further, developments works are rarely completed in time due to various factors, political or otherwise. A delay in works, which has almost been customary, pushes up the cost of development projects. There are instances galore that development projects are the victims of procrastination.
The country has dreamt of graduating into a developing country by 2022. For this, the accelerator of infrastructure development needs to be floored. But the government has not paid adequate attention to this important aspect. Just blaming last year’s earthquake and Indian blockade for non-initiation of or delay in development works will not work at all.
The government seems to have a nonchalant attitude towards development works. On the other hand, development works seem to be going on the basis of the spoils system. The government has to please various political parties. The political factor plays a big role in the success or failure of development works. Hydropower projects are a case in point. The underdevelopment of the hydropower sector in the country has more to do with the political factor than anything else.
In a poor country like Nepal, there is no alternative to enhancing the prosperity of the country and lifting the standard of living of the people through development projects. The country makes many plans, but most of them do not begin at all or conk out while in progress.
Therefore, it is the need of the hour for the government to change its mindset and engage in development works in earnest. For this, the lengthy and complicated bureaucratic process needs to be short-circuited and red tape eliminated. The budget should be allocated in Shrawan or Bhadra. The budget should be spent strictly in accordance with the plans or projects as envisaged in the government’s policy and programs and the budgetary provisions.
Eleventh-hour development works are not going to benefit the country at all. But it will definitely benefit a certain section of people. Development works can be deemed a success when it benefits the common people. If the government is really serious about developing the country and the political parties also place national interests above their partisan interests, there is no question why the country cannot graduate into a developing country by 2022.
The government makes commitments here, there and everywhere. Till now, such commitments have been made for the sake of making commitments only. The time has now come for the government and the political parties to set aside their parochial interests and give prominence to national interests by engaging in development works not at the eleventh hour but all the year round.
The budget for the next fiscal year has been out. There are various ambitious programmes encapsulated in the budget. They include reconstruction, hydropower and infrastructure development projects like the operation of the electric railway and other railways, and metros. The government is also planning to own a shipping line of its own with ships designed to sail the Pacific and Indian Oceans with the Nepali flag.
There are also positive things designed for the overall development of the country. If development works are delayed or allowed to remain unexecuted as in the past, the county will not be able to get off the ground as far as development is concerned. So the government and the concerned bodies must show alacrity in releasing the budget in time and completing development projects within the deadline.
Surya Nath Upadhyaya is a member of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) from Nepal’s side. The EPG has a two-year term, and it has already spent...