FinMin defends CDF allocation

  • ‘Cheap loan has potential to transform agriculture’
FinMin defends CDF allocation

Jul 14, 2014-

Amid concerns about the possibility of funds misuse, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat on Monday defended the newly introduced Constituency Development Fund saying that there were examples of good utilisation of such grants.

Mahat said allocation of budget for each electoral constituency would not invite political anomalies. “Voters are aware and there is strong monitoring by the media,” said Mahat. “We will also see whether the money is spent on what it is meant for.”

Though Mahat did not elaborate on the “success stories”, National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Govinda Raj Pokharel furnished some examples later. “Lawmaker Ananda Dhungana bought bicycles for the children of poor families to go to schools while Amar Pun and Raju Khanal provided subsidies to villages in Rolpa and Dang for installing solar panels for lighting,” he said, about the Rs 1 million that the government has been providing to lawmakers every year to fund schemes in their constituencies. However, misuse of such funds has been reported in various districts.

After the government allocated Rs 10 million instead of Rs 50 million demanded by Constituent Assembly members, parliamentarians from the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) have expressed dissatisfaction. A group of NC lawmakers who lobbied for the CDF held an informal meeting on Monday to review the budget and complained that the amount is insufficient. After the meeting, NC lawmakers met party leaders Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Poudel and Prakash Man Singh to seek their support for increasing the CDF amount.

The UCPN (Maoist), however, has opposed the allocation.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Mahat said that reform measures taken by the budget would spur economic growth that has averaged at 4.1 percent in the past decade. In the next fiscal, the government aims to achieve 6 percent growth against the 5.2 percent expected growth this fiscal.

Mahat was of the view that budget’s focus on agriculture, particularly the availability of loans at 6 percent for youths, has a huge potential in transforming farm sector.

According to Mahat, the Finance Ministry has decided to expedite the process of getting laws and policies endorsed from Parliament to kick-start second generation reforms. “We have decided to work with other ministries for early legislation,” he said. The budget states that such reforms are necessary for high and sustained economic growth. For 6 percent growth, Nepal Rastra Bank will introduce necessary measures through its upcoming monetary policy. Governor Yubaraj Khatiwada said the document for the next fiscal will have a credit policy favourable for growth. Officials say limiting inflation to 8 percent is feasible. Central bank Governor Khatiwada hoped strict enforcement of the anti-syndicate policy and increased agricultural productivity will contain rising prices.

Published: 15-07-2014 09:18

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