The Government of Nepal and the World Bank held a joint portfolio review to assess the performance of development projects assisted by the World Bank in Nepal. The meeting was co-chaired by Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and World Bank Country Manager for Nepal Ms TahseenSayed.
Today’s first trimester review meeting took stock of the implementation and results of 13 projects in the current portfolio of 18 ongoing projects, representing US$ 850 million in the total portfolio size of US$ 1.5 billion. Issues affecting project implementation discussed today included the status of disbursements and implementation challenges arising from weak fiduciary and safeguards compliance, frequent and untimely staff transfers, and delays in decision-making.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Sayed congratulated the Government for presenting a full, regular budget for FY13-14 as well as for achieving a remarkable turnaround in portfolio performance during the last quarter of FY12-13, once the full budget was put in place. With nearly half a billion dollars in new commitments, she noted that the additional resources from the World Bank also call for greater mutual accountability for results. She highlighted financial management, procurement practices and transparency as key areas where governance oversight could be improved.
According to press release issued by the World Bank, in his closing remarks, Subedi noted that spending authority was delegated to the line ministries on the same day the budget was approved. He said the line ministries have been instructed to approve annual work programs and budgets for Priority 1 (P1) projects within 15 days of the start of the new fiscal year and within 30 days for Priority 2 and 3 (P2, P3) projects. Subedi said plans are afoot to strengthen the monitoring of budget execution at the Ministry of Finance.
Madhu Kumar Marasini, Chief of International Economic Cooperation and Coordination Division of the Ministry of Finance said FY13-14 will be the “year of implementation”.
Senior officials from the Government of Nepal and project implementing agencies attended the review meeting. Ms. Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, Director for Operations and Quality Services, South Asia Region, World Bank and Ms. JyotiShukla, Manager, Sustainable Development, South Asia Region, World Bank, also addressed the meeting.
Follow up discussions have been scheduled on key outstanding implementation hurdles such as Right-Of-Way corridors for transmission line projects, forest permits for infrastructure projects, and fiduciary compliance including the timely submission of audit reports.