Budget presentation deferred by a month

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
Budget presentation deferred by a month

May 13, 2015-

The government has postponed its budget presentation plan by a month following recent earthquakes. The government had planned to present the budget for the next financial year on June 8, but officials said the presentation would not be possible before July as fresh discussions were needed following the massive damages caused by the quakes.

The government had been preparing for an early budget presentation so that more time could be given for the budget implementation and capital budget spending could be ensured.

“The new budget will be presented in July,” said Baikuntha Aryal, chief of the Finance Ministry’s budget division. “Due to the damages caused by the quakes, we are holding fresh discussions on the budget.”

He said the ministry had planned to start the discussion from Wednesday, but the Tuesday’s quake further delayed the plan.  

According to the National planning Commission (NPC), it has told the ministries to forget what was discussed earlier on the budget and start fresh discussions with special focus on reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake-damaged infrastructure.

Earlier, the ministries had started sending their programmes for the budget.

NPC member Chandramani Adhikari said discussions so far held have no meaning as priorities have to be changed after the earthquakes.

“We have told the ministries to prepare programmes with allocation of as much as half of the capital budget for reconstruction and rehabilitation,” said Adhikari, who has been overseeing budget affairs at NPC. “The new budget’s priority will be rehabilitation, reconstruction and new construction and construction of new alternative international airports and hydropower projects.” The tremors have damaged 288,798 houses of the general public fully, while 254,112 houses have been partially destroyed. A total of 10,790 government buildings have been damaged completely, while 14,997 have been partially damaged, according to the Home Ministry.

Many historical monuments have also been destroyed and damaged.

The government has announced a reconstruction fund of Rs 200 billion, putting in Rs 20 billion. It has sought international support for additional resources, with a donors’ conference planned within the next two months.

Japan has promised to organise such a conference to help Nepal generate international support for reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure.

According to Aryal, although the reconstruction will get top priority, districts less affected by the quake or non-affected ones cannot be forgotten in the budget allocation. Due to the requirement of additional resources for reconstruction and rehabilitation purposes, officials say the budget ceiling fixed by National Planning Commission (NPC) may not be adequate.

NPC had fixed the ceiling of Rs 735.47 billion. “The ceiling might have to be revised upward due to additional resources required for reconstruction and rehabilitation,” said the Aryal.

The government expects to generate additional resources from already-pledged amount after the international donors’ conference is held enabling the government to increase the budget ceiling.

Meanwhile, both the Finance Ministry and NPC have asked other ministries to cut less-important projects so that enough resources could be generated for reconstruction and other big infrastructure projects. “We have also asked the ministries to return resources which cannot be spent this fiscal,” said NPC member Adhikari.

The Finance Ministry said it has so far drawn Rs 5 billion from ministries from their recurrent headings.

Published: 14-05-2015 09:59

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