EC asks govt not to present budget between elections

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 30, 2017-

Amid mounting pressure from various political parties, including the main opposition CPN-UML, the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday asked the government not to  present the annual budget on May 29 which falls between the first and second phases of the local level polls, warning that doing so would violate election code of conduct.

The election body had earlier said it would not stand on the way of the budget presentation between the polling dates of May 14 and June 14, citing a constitution provision that states the annual budget must be presented on Jestha 15 (May 29). The EC however suggested the government to present the budget after the both phases of elections is over.

“The presentation of policy and programme and the annual budget between the two phases of elections is against the poll code of conduct and it can influence the second phase of elections,” the election body said in a press statement after a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav took the decision on Saturday. “So, EC decided to draw the attention of the government in this regard.” 

The EC has, however, clarified that the code of conduct which came into effect on March 1 will prevail until the second phase of elections are over.

“If the government presents the budget on May 29, the EC would not stop it because it is the constitutional requirement,” Chief Election Commissioner Yadav had said, addressing a press meet last Tuesday. “The government must, however, consult with the EC prior to introducing any populist programme in the budget as it could influence the vote.” 

The election body’s new decision has come in the backdrop of political parties’ discussions on postponing the budget presentation date by amending the constitution. “The government’s attention should be drawn after EC’s decision,” said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma. “We did not instruct the government to stop budget presentation between the two election dates because the constitution has made it mandatory to present budget on Jestha 15.”  The UML, which has been opposing the budget presentation between the first and second phases of the local elections, had also enquired about EC’s position on the matter. The UML has made it clear that it was not acceptable to the party as the ruling parties could influence the election by introducing populist programmes to win votes.  

The constitutional provision of presenting the budget on May 29 was made after the past experiences when the budget presentation was delayed for as long as nine months into the fiscal year because of the political instability.

This happened three years in a row in fiscal years 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2012-13 under the first Constituent Assembly affecting the development expenditure which severely hit the economic performance of the country.

Published: 30-04-2017 07:46

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