Govt faces challenge to endorse budget

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Aug 3, 2015-

The government is likely to face tough times as lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties have taken serious exception to the budget claiming that Nepali Congress (NC) unilaterally selected projects for the current fiscal year.

As the thematic discussion on the Appropriation Bill started three weeks after the endorsement of an advance budget on Monday, the UCPN (Maoist) boycotted the discussion process claiming that the budget was prepared ignoring people’s suggestions from local level and failed to pay heed to the peace agreement and post quake situation. Seriously objecting the ‘unilateral move of the government’, the Maoist said it would not participate in the discussion that did not respect aspirations of the people.

Responding to the proposal of Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat for theoretical discussions over the Bill, Maoist Chief Whip Giriraj Mani Pokharel accused the government of ignoring the due process of budget discussion. He said that starting discussions without submitting details on district-wise plan for fiscal year 2015-16 is not acceptable. The ministry-wise discussion on the Bill cannot proceed unless all the ministries  provide their detailed report on district-wise spending and programmes to all the lawmakers. Failure in providing the reports despite several rulings, the Parliament only began thematic discussion on Monday.

Stating that his party supported to endorse the advance budget as a gesture of support to the government in times of crisis, Pokharel claimed that the government took their decision for granted. 

The Maoists said that it will not support in endorsing the budget if its concerns presented while endorsing the advance budget are not incorporated. It has also blamed the government for ignoring the recommendation of a taskforce formed before formulation of the budget. The taskforce led by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had leaders from both the ruling and opposition parties.

In the taskforce, the Maoists had demanded to announce a project in the name of its demised leader Post Bahadur Bogati, support to martyr schools established by them and prioritise war victims while providing shares of Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower. 

“Our future course will be determined depending upon the response of the government,” said Pokharel. All the lawmakers from the party left the meeting after Pokhrel’s remarks. As Parliamentary practice, Speaker Subas Nembang deferred the meeting for Tuesday following the protest.

Earlier, several lawmakers from CPN-UML and CPN (ML) warned that they will not support to endorse the budget if the NC does not correct its ‘unilateral move’. They objected the budget claiming that it was targeted towards the general convention of NC.

UML and CPN (ML) lawmakers had chanted slogans against Mahat as soon as he tabled the proposal. Taking part in the discussion, UML lawmaker Rajendra Pandey said that influential ministers have accumulated dozens of projects in their districts. He claimed that out of 75 projects for bridge construction for the current fiscal year, 40 are in the home district of Minister for Physical Planning and Works Bimalendra Nidhi alone. “We cannot support such unbalanced budget,” he said. UML leaders have been openly criticising the budget claiming that the NC did not consult them while drafting it. They have also started a signature campaign to put pressure on amending the budget. Also participating in the discussion, CPN (ML) lawmaker Aaindra Sundar Nembang said his party does not support the budget. “Our party will not own the budget if our concerns are not incorporated,” he added.

Published: 04-08-2015 08:33

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