Friday, December 05, 2003

KMC plans big budget without enough cash

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu, December 5[2003]:
Five months after the beginning of the fiscal year 2003/04, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City is preparing to make public a budget, which, the insiders say, will be three times bigger than the previous one. The mega-budget will be made public within a week.

According to KMC officials, a Budget Preparatory Committee, led by deputy mayor Rajaram Shrestha, is preparing to present an annual budget of Rs 2.98 billion for this fiscal year. Last year, the KMC had approved a budget of Rs 808 million.

The KMC plans to spend a sum of Rs 2,985,544,633.22

this year. Out of it, Rs 2,189,579,863 (78.94 per cent) will be spent on improvement of urban infrastructure, while Rs 584,047,270 (21.06 per cent ) will be spent on administration.

According to an official, the KMC has committed to provide only Rs 1.45 billion from its resources. No one at the KMC knows from which source the rest of the money � Rs 1.35 billion � will come. �It is a dream project. Such a mega-budget, at a time when the roles to be played by the mayor and other representatives is quite unclear, is bound to raise controversies,� says an officer.

Some of the KMC officers maintain that the projects that were expected to be completed last year have not been completed yet because of political meddling and corruption controversies. That is why, there is no reason to come up with such a budget. The KMC administration should focus on completing the unfinished projects, they say.

�Last year, the KMC had estimated to have spent Rs 22.3 million management of land-fill site alone and Rs 2.5 million on heritage conservation. But it is yet to be examined whether the

KMC spent that money properly. Similarly, it also said that Rs 2.5 million will be spent on management of the City Hall, which is still a dream project,� another KMC officer says.

Amrit Man Shrestha, an adviser to the Budget Committee, said, �though the proposed budget is comparatively bigger, it can see the light of the day if government sanctions loans.�