Budget set to break Rs 909 billion ceiling

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
Many new initiatives regarding infrastructure projects, agriculture, drinking water and urbanisation have also been planned, according to sources

May 28, 2016-The government is set to table fiscal budget on Saturday by significantly crossing the initial ceiling of Rs 909 billion, as it plans to introduce a number of populist and new programmes, according to sources involved in drafting the budget.

Increasing funding for social security such as old age allowance, the Constituency Development Programme (CDP), local governments and introducing expanded health insurance system and employment guarantee programmes are some of the populist agenda the government is planning to incorporate in the new budget. 

Many new initiatives regarding infrastructure projects, agriculture, drinking water and urbanisation have also been planned, said the sources. “The budget size is likely to cross Rs 1 trillion in view of implementing the constitution, which has added additional burden on the state as it has added many facilities under people’s fundamental rights,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Finance.  

The budget size for the current fiscal is Rs 819 billion.

The new constitution has ensured 31 fundamental rights, including social security, right to labour, right to employment with the provision of unemployment benefit and right to housing among others. Under the social security programme, there are plans to hike allowance for elderly and widows. Farmers are also likely to benefit from social security scheme. 

The controversial CDP, for which Rs 15 million is allocated in this fiscal’s budget, will get more funds in the upcoming budget. After facing four-and-a-half-month-long Indian blockade, the government is all set to prioritise connectivity with China with road and rail network. 

Cross-border transmission lines between Nepal and China, upgrading of road connecting Rasuwagadhi and Kimathanka, preparing detailed project report of Rasuwgadhi-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini are other plans that are likely to be announced.

The government is also planning to develop fuel storage facilities in all seven provinces to sustain fuel demand for at least 90 days. 

A few new programmes on urban development are also likely to be announced. 

Finance Ministry sources said the government through the budget will aim to develop 14 cities—two cities in each province—under the “One City, One Identity” concept.  

“For example, Pokhara can be declared tourism city and Bharatpur can be declared medical city,” said a source. “The government will help develop necessary infrastructure by offering various incentives.” 

The government is also expected to announce plans for developing nine corridor cities to connect different cities which have relatively closer economic integration. 

Duhabi-Itahari-Dharan, Panchkhal-Banepa-Panauti, Pokhara-Lekhanath-Dulegauda are among the few corridor cities that the government is planning to announce. 

The government is also set to announce a mega initiative for drinking water for rapidly growing population. “There is a plan for diverting water from big rivers to the cities alongside the river directly by setting up water treatment plants,” said the source.  

The government is also planning to introduce special drinking water programme for the Tarai. 

With the government declaring the next fiscal year kick-start year of “Decade of Economic Growth”, it plans to give special focus on agriculture commercialisation. 

“A concept of zone and super zone will be introduced under which large swathes of land will be selected for certain products,” said the government source. 

Irrigation will also get major focus with special programme planned in 22 districts. Hydropower is yet another sector in which the budget will put extra focus, with an aim to ending load shedding in one year.

Published: 28-05-2016 08:07

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