Local Level Fails to Submit Budgets

  June 30, 2023 By: INSEC

Due to inadequate preparation and internal conflicts, resulting in differences of opinion and disputes, 13 municipalities and 12 rural municipalities have yet to complete their assembly proceedings by the deadline of June 25. These assemblies were unable to convene due to incomplete pre-meeting discussions, deliberations, and other essential procedures, as well as a lack of consensus among officials regarding their rights and responsibilities.

Under subsection 1 of Section 71 of the Local Government Operation Act, 2017, it is stipulated that local levels must submit their budget estimates to the executive by June 25. However, out of the 136 local levels in eight districts of the Madhesh province, only 111 local-level meetings have been concluded by the designated date. As a result, 25 village and city councils were unable to hold their respective meetings.

According to Manohar Kumar Pokharel, the representative of Saptari, among the nine municipalities and nine rural municipalities in the district, three municipalities and one rural municipality—four local levels in total—failed to present their budgets by June 25. The Acting Mayor, Ishrat Parveen, stated that the budget could not be presented in Rajviraj Municipality-7 due to the Acting Mayor’s decision to overturn the Municipal Board’s resolution regarding land encroachment in Hatia. Other members protested this decision, claiming it favored the encroachers. Consequently, the Acting Mayor could not bring forward the budget due to a significant difference of opinion. Similarly, in Hanumannagar Kankalini and Rupani Rural Municipality, the Municipal Assemblies could not commence due to a lack of harmony among the people’s representatives. The town meeting scheduled for June 10 in Kanchanrup Municipality was also postponed due to a dispute, according to Navaraj Khadka, the Chief Administrative Officer.

Durga Periyar, the representative of Siraha, reported that out of the 17 local levels in Siraha district, Laxmipur Patari Rural Municipality failed to submit its budget by June 25. Ramchandra Chaudhary, the Chairperson of Ward 2 in Laxmipur Patari, mentioned that they were under pressure to complete the plans for the upcoming fiscal year, as the consumer committees’ funds were yet to be disbursed. This situation led to the busyness of employees and public representatives, making preparing for the village assembly challenging. Chaudhary further explained that the recent arrival of the Chief Administrative Officer and Accountant in the municipality added to their workload, preventing them from holding the village assembly on time.

Ajay Kumar Sah, the representative of Mahottari, stated that out of the 18 local levels in Dhanusha district, five local levels—Mithila Municipality, Kamala Municipality, Shaheednagar Municipality, Dhanauji, and Aurhi Rural Municipality—failed to bring their budgets within the specified timeframe. Disputes over budget allocations hindered these local levels from presenting their budgets. For instance, internal conflicts among the elected representatives from CPN-UML affected the budget in Mithila Municipality, as per Mahendra Mahato, the Mayor. Similarly, disagreements and lack of coordination between people’s representatives delayed the budget presentation in Dhanauji Rural Municipality, according to Rajkumar Sah, the Chairperson.

Budhan Sah, the representative of Sarlahi, informed that out of the 20 local levels in the district, 18 local levels managed to present their budgets by June 10. However, Haripurwa Municipality and Hariwan Municipality were unable to bring their budgets. Binod Kumar Sah, the Mayor of Haripurwa Municipality, mentioned a dispute related to not allowing town meetings to be held, resulting in the Chief Administrative Officer’s absence from the attendance register for the past two months. Harimai Ghalan, the Deputy Chief, accused Ramesh Budhathoki, the Chief of Hariwan Municipality, of acting unilaterally without consulting and coordinating with other representatives.

Among the 18 local levels in Rautahat district, 14 local levels successfully brought their budgets within the specified timeframe. However, Madhavnarayan Municipality, Gadhimai Municipality, Durga Bhagwati Rural Municipality, and Yamunamai Rural Municipality could not present their budgets. Baijanath Prasad, the Mayor of Madhavnarayan Municipality, explained that inadequate preparations prior to the meeting led to the budget’s delay. In Gadhimai Municipality, disagreements among the people’s representatives regarding budget allocation prevented them from presenting the budget by June 25, as stated by Smita Kumari Yadav, the Deputy Chief. Durga Bhagwati Rural Municipality also faced challenges in bringing their budget due to political and factional issues, according to Shambhukumar Singh, the Chairperson. Singh added that mutual agreement among the people’s representatives would facilitate the budget presentation by July 6.

Bholanath Paudel, the representative of Bara, reported that 14 out of 16 local levels in the district completed their meetings, except for Pacharuta Municipality, whose status remains uncertain. Although the municipal office claimed that the municipal assembly was completed on June 25, the District Administration Office informed the ministry that no town meeting was held in Pacharuta Municipality. Furthermore, due to conflicts among the people’s representatives and disputes over budget allocations, the Municipal Council of Simrongarh Municipality did not convene.

Krishnachandra Lamichhane, the representative of Parsa, explained that out of the one metropolitan city, three municipalities, and 10 rural municipalities in the district, nine local levels submitted their policies, programs, and budgets. However, Chhipharmai, Dhovini, Vindwasini, Sakhuwa Prasauni, and Kalikamai Rural Municipality were unable to present their policies, programs, and budgets. Manoj Gupta, the Village Chairperson, mentioned that Chhipharmai Rural Municipality is preparing to bring their policies, programs, and budgets simultaneously on June 30. The delay in bringing the budget for Bindwasini Rural Municipality was attributed to the transfer of Raju Sah, the Chief Administrative Officer, to the District Coordination Committee Parsa, as stated by Pramod Tiwari, the Chairman. Amit Giri, the Chief Administrative Officer of Kalikamai Rural Municipality, had been transferred to Jirabhavani Rural Municipality, and with the absence of the new Chief Administrative Officer, Navonath Yadav, the budget presentation was challenging. Dhowini Rural Municipality faced a lack of political consensus, resulting in difficulties in presenting the budget. Madan Chauhan, the Chairman, explained that he was in the minority in the executive committee and village assembly, causing delays. The budget was expected to be brought on July 6 after mutual agreement. Likewise, Sakhuwa Prasauni Rural Municipality was unable to present the budget due to the absence of budget allocation and ongoing party sessions. Thori Rural Municipality presented only policies and programs, while the budget presentation was expected to be delayed by a couple of days. Lal Bahadur Shrestha, the Chairman, stated that although they faced some issues with the budgets received from the province, they would be able to present the budget by July 5.

It is crucial to discuss and pass the budget in its entirety by the end of June since the new financial year starts on July 1. Failure to do so affects financial payments for various activities that rely on the budget, such as administrative and development work, social security allowance distribution, and employee wages. The local levels were expected to bring and pass the budget by mid-June 16 to ensure smooth operations and financial transactions in the upcoming financial year.