KATHMANDU, Oct 14: The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) on Tuesday officially informed Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and all the other ministers that the office cannot release their salaries this month.
The Finance Section at OPMCM stalled the check for Rs 6 million set to be released in the name of cabinet members and their aides after it ran short of money due to the failure of parliament to approve the budget for the current fiscal year.
Parliament has not been able to pass the budget following continuous obstruction of its proceedings by the Maoists since May. The vote on account bill passed by parliament does not allow the government to spend more than one-third of the total budget.
The Finance Section at OPMCM said that if it releases the salaries for the prime minister and ministers for the current Nepali month, the figure will cross one-third of the budget. The prime minister and ministers should have gotten their salaries by Sunday.
Officials at OPMCM made it clear that they can release this month´s salaries only if the annual budget is passed by parliament or if the finance minister makes a policy-level urgent decision. “Otherwise we cannot release this month´s salaries and we have informed cabinet ministers about this,” an official at OPMCM told myrepublica.com on condition of anonymity. The section generally releases the salaries of the prime minister and other ministers on the 26th, 27th or 28th of the Nepali month.
According to officials, they informed the PM and all the ministers as per instructions received from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) recently. MoF has already instructed all government agencies in writing not to incur expenses out of the limited budget as the annual budget is yet to be passed by parliament.
“We have collected all details of the salaries to be provided to cabinet members," said an official at the section adding, “We have totaled the salaries which comes to about Rs 6 million, but we have not yet prepared the check in the name of the PM and other ministers due to lack of budget.”
The section releases salaries to ministers and their aides through a single check.
Meanwhile, the ministers have started calling officials at the section for their salaries. The officials said that they are tired of receiving phone calls from ministers and their aides regarding the salaries.
On Tuesday alone, the ministers for foreign affairs, home, physical planning and works, energy, sports and others called up the section for their salaries.
“Though they know about the problem, they have been calling us as if they are totally unaware of the budgetary limitations,” said one official at the section.
The ministers are unhappy about the problem created by the Maoists.
“Those who have been obstructing parliament are responsible for this,” said Law and Justice Minister Prem Bahadur Singh.
He said that the salary problem wouldn´t be confined to the ministers but government employees, Maoist combatants at various cantonments and other sections of society will also be severely affected eventually.
Currently, the prime minister receives Rs 252,000 as collective monthly salary for his team while a deputy prime minister and a minister get Rs 175,000 and Rs 132,000 monthly respectively for their teams. Similarly, a state minister and an assistant minister receive Rs 128,000 and Rs 101,000 as collective monthly salaries for their teams.
Earlier, the finance section of the parliament secretariat had informed lawmakers that it would not release their salaries in advance.