Govt in bid to please all, says Nepali Congress

  • Argues budget fails to focus on economic progress
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

May 29, 2016-

Coming close on the heels of government’s announcement to hold the local elections by the end of this year, the ambitious budget unveiled on Saturday is more focused on “securing votes by pleasing every section of society” than ensuring economic progress, the leaders from the opposition parties said.

Bypassing the Rs909-billion ceiling, the government announced a huge budget incorporating a number of ‘populists’ programmes like doubling the budget of local bodies and the Constituency Development Fund. It has also tried to win the heart of government officials and general public by increasing the salary by 25 percent and doubling the senior citizen and widow allowance to Rs2,000 per month. 

The government has announced to hold the local election by December though a majority of parties, including ruling UCPN (Maoist) have opposed it. 

Under the new provision, a lawmaker can spend up to Rs35 million in his/her electoral constituency. Similarly, each VDC will get to spend the budget between Rs3 million to Rs 20 million, while the budget for the municipalities will be at least five times the amount. “This is a politically motivated expansionary and inflationary budget,” said Nepali Congress leader and former Finance Minster Ram Sharan Mahat. He said that the new budget will only increase the inflation rate which is already too high. 

The budget tabled by Minister of Finance Bishnu Poudel aims to attain the economic growth of 6.8 percent and contain the inflation to 6.5 percent. The economic survey presented by the government on Wednesday has estimated a growth rate of just 0.77 percent for the current fiscal year and inflation at 9.5 percent. In the name of appeasing the public, Mahat claimed the government has come up with a numerous projects which cannot be implemented even in next 10 years. 

“Dozens of projects in the budget have been announced without any study,” claimed another NC leader Mahesh Acharya. The government has scattered the budget here and there just to show that there has been a high expenditure, he said. The survey shows the Capital Expenditure in last eight months of the current fiscal year is just around 24 percent. Even leaders from the ruling parties are sceptical over the implementation of the present budget. 

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Maoist Centre, said that though the budget has tried to focus on reconstruction, implement constitution and conclude the remaining works of peace process it lacks many things that need to be corrected. “There are many issues. We will publicise it after studying the budget thoroughly,” he said. The thematic discussion of the budget will continue for four days starting on Monday, while the lawmakers will get to table their amendment for three days starting on Friday.

Published: 29-05-2016 08:32

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