KATHMANDU, May 18: Minister for Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel has assured a budget of Rs 1.94 billion for a minor road project in his constituency 4 of Rupandehi district, apparently, just to woo his voters.
The government had allocated Rs 5 million in the current fiscal year for repair and maintenance of a 21 km road that stretches from Belbas to Bethari.
But the National Planning Commission, reportedly, converted a non-priority project into a multi-year contract at the request of Minister Paudel and the Ministry of Finance ordered the Department of Road to start the tender process about a month ago.
The road does not fall under the Department of Road’s strategic roads list, but the amount assured by Poudel is about equal to the money that are set aside for high priority and strategic road projects.
The Division Road Office, Butwal, published a tender notice Saturday inviting bids for the development of road. A two-lane blacktopped roads on either side of Tinau canal will be built within three years. The road links the Mahendra Highway, which lies three kilometers west of Butwal, with Bhairahawa-Lumbini road in the south.
The road is not strategically important and economic return on investments has not been analyzed yet, said two senior officials at the Department of Road, speaking separately with Republica. It seems like taxpayers’ money is being allocated for the road without giving much thought just to woo Paudel’s voters, they said.
“The road is not in the strategic roads list. But overnight it has become a highly prioritized strategic road,” exclaimed a government engineer seeking anonimity.
“The National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance have been overlooking development priorities, selecting projects in a reckless manner, and allowing tender process at the end of the fiscal year,” added the source.
His predecessor in the ministry Ram Sharan Mahat also had allocated such a huge amount to his constituency in Nuwakot last year in the same way, but the budget allocation was not so huge.
NPC spokesman Tulsi Prasad Gautam and Minister Paudel could not be reached for comments.