HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The government has utterly neglected the culture heritage, the identity of the nation, by allocating meagre budget compared to other sectors.
While on the one hand, the culture and identity of the nation have been confined to a narrow space after the ministries were split and merged, on the other, the government has not given any priority in budgetary allocations, said Jaya Ram Shrestha, under-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).
Undersecretary Rajendra Sigdel, who deals with budget and programme issues related to culture and heritage at MoCTCA, said the Ministry of Finance and National Planning Commission had given only Rs 1.2 billion for the coming fiscal year. “Our proposal was Rs 3.81 billion to promote and conserve the culture and heritage of Nepal,” he said.
Only Rs 0.99 billion was allocated for the current fiscal year. The government increases at least 10 per cent of the budget ceiling for each ministry every year compared to the previous year. However, only three percent has been allocated for the culture and heritage sector while at least 10 per cent has been increased for other ministries, according to MoCTCA sources.
The government formulated National Culture Policy and approved it in 2010 in a bid to deal with culture and heritage issues. The policy provisioned a separate Culture Ministry in Nepal, which has already signed the UNESCO convention.There are one-and-a-half dozen cultural and religious development committees, several museums, some cultural corporations, dozens of cultures, heritages and monuments, and one department working on both intangible and tangible cultures of the country.
Sigdel further said that it would be very difficult to work to promote culture and heritage. “If the government does not think about it, we will be unable to do more than propose programmes,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, tourism and civil aviation issues have overshadowed the cultural issues, which are believed to be the source of tourism business in the country, according to government officials.
The Ministry of Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture (MoFACAPAC) has been split and merged into three ministries. Federal Affairs has been merged to the Ministry of Local Development, Parliamentary Affairs into the Ministry of Law and Justice and Culture into the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.
About 50 staffers, including two joint-secretaries, seven under-secretaries and 12 officers were working on cultural issues at MoFACAPAC. There are now only five staffers including one joint-secretary, two under-secretaries and two officers to work on cultural issues, according to the officials.
There are 26 ministries. Madhav Nepal led-government had, in 2009, increased the number of ministries to 26 by splitting 22 ministries to induct new ministers to save his coalition government.
The ministries were split without rationale and the costs were not calculated.