Govt to start budget discussions today

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 3, 2016-

The government will start discussions on the budget for the next fiscal year from Sunday.As per a constitutional provision, the government has to present the budget on Jestha 15 every year.

National Planning Commission (NPC) has fixed the budget ceiling at Rs909 billion, based on which ministries will have to present their expenditure plans for the next fiscal year that begins in mid-July 2016.

The Finance Ministry has told the ministries to propose their programmes by increasing the budget size by 5-10 percent compared to last year’s allocations.

“Subject-wise discussion on the proposed programmes will begin from Sunday at NPC,” said Gopi Nath Mainali, joint secretary at NPC. “We have also been holding discussions with stakeholders such as the private sector and the civil society.” The Finance Ministry plans to start ministry-wise discussions on the budget from mid-April.

With the constitutional provision in place, the budget will be presented before the beginning of the fiscal year for the first time in several years. “This is expected to help conclude the paper works before the new fiscal year begins and start development works early,” said a Finance Ministry official.

It usually takes around three months for the ministries to get their programmes endorsed by NPC, and the contract awarding process takes additional time, leaving little time for project implementation. In the past years, the government’s plans for early budget presentation were foiled due to obstructions from political parties.

“Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), new 14th periodic plan, reconstruction, energy crisis and diversifying trade will be major focus of the new budget,” said Mainali.

It will be the first year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 14th periodic plan. “So the next budget will be an important one,” said Mainali.

NPC on Thursday unveiled the preliminary national report on the SDC, targeting to reduce poverty to 5 percent and increase per capita income to $2,500 from current $772. NPC also plans to prepare an approach paper of the new three-year plan by mid-April and prepare the next plan by mid-July. The plan, according to NPC officials, will be based on the SDG. The SDGs supersedes the Millennium Development Goals.

According to Mainali, the upcoming budget will also have programmes to implement the new Constitution, allocating resources based on provinces. Given slow progress of reconstruction due to the delay in forming the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), huge resources will be allocated for the purpose, he said.

The government has allocated Rs91 billion for reconstruction for this fiscal year, but the chances of spending the entire amount are slim as reconstruction works have just begun.

According to Mainali, the new budget will also focus on diversifying trade, considering the impact recent Indian trade embargo on the economy. India accounts for two-third of Nepal’s trade. As part of its plan to diversify trade, the government signed transit agreement with China during the visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to Beijing.

The next budget will also focus on ending load shedding in line with the Energy Emergency announced in February. The National Energy Crisis Reduction and Electricity Development Decade plan aims to add an additional 839MW of electricity in the next year during the dry season.

The country’s daily power output stands at 780MW, which drops to 300MW during the dry season. The plan also envisages generating 1,339MW during the wet season in the following year.

Published: 03-04-2016 09:58

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