‘Populist’ financial outlay on the cards

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
run-up to budget

May 21, 2016-With just about a week to go for budget presentation, there are indications that the KP Sharma Oli administration is working to include some populist programmes in the annual financial layout. 

Sources involved in drafting fiscal budget for 2016-17 said health insurance, extension of people’s housing programme (PHP) and initiatives for employment guarantee are some of the schemes that the Oli-led government is likely to bring through the budget. Minister for Finance Bishnu Poudel is presenting the budget for 2016-17 in Parliament on May 28.

Based on the nine-point agreement reached on May 5 between Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who now is the chairman of a CPN Maoist Centre, talks of change of guard after the budget are also doing the rounds. Hence, the government, it is believed, is trying to bring programmes that could cater to their larger constituencies. 

The government has also announced that local elections will be held in November/December; hence programmes aiming at electoral dividend are also likely to be included in the budget. 

However, a senior official at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) said these programmes are being introduced as the “new constitution talks about right to housing and right to health”. “They will feature in the new budget as part constitution implementation,” the official added. 

In a bid to implement ‘right to housing’, the government is planning to extend people’s housing programme (Janata Awas Karyakram).People’s housing programme was introduced by then Madhav Nepal government in 2009-10 and is currently expanded to over two dozen districts. “This time the focus will be on building houses that are natural disaster resistant,” sources said. 

Under health insurance programme, the government is planning to ensure 

extensive coverage of insurance for people outside the government.  

Although health insurance programme was announced in the budget in the past as well, the official said the new budget is likely to increase the coverage.  

With all major parties on the same page regarding Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the government is likely to increase budget for CDF. The Sushil Koirala 

government had introduced CDF but it has run into controversy for various reasons. The government had allocated Rs15 million for each constituency under CDF to carry out infrastructure projects based on people’s participation. 

As mentioned in the government’s policies and programmes, budget allocation for major infrastructure projects like Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track and roads connecting northern border points are likely to get more funds than in the previous year. The Oli administration has announced that the government itself will build the Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track. 

According to officials at MoF and National Planning Commission (NPC), five roads connecting northern border points will get significant resources as Transit Transport Agreement (TTA) between Nepal and China has been signed.The roads that are on priority list include Biratnagar-Kimathanka, Mustang-Korala, the Karnali corridor connecting Hilsa, Galchhi-Syaphrubeshi-Rasuwagadhi and Kathmandu-Tatopani. 

Govt working on

  •  Health insurance
  •  Extending people’s housing programme
  •  Employment guarantee
  •  More resources for Constituency Development Fund 
  •  Prioritising Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track and roads linking to northern border points

Published: 21-05-2016 08:29

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