EC to allow government to launch budget before completion of polls

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 11, 2017-

The Election Commission (EC) has backtracked from its previous decision that barred the government from introducing the budget for the next fiscal year before the completion of local level polls, clearing the decks for the Ministry of Finance to present the fiscal policy in Parliament on the day stipulated by the constitution.

Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav told a programme on Wednesday that the government’s annual plans and policies along withthe fiscal budget could be unveiled as per the provision included in the constitution if they do not violate the election code of conduct. 

This indicates that the EC would allow the government to introduce a budget that gives continuity to policies and programmes. In other words, the government may not be able to announce new policies and programmes in the budget it is planning to launch.

However, the EC has yet to make a formal decision in this regard, as this issue has not been discussed at the apex body that oversees all works related to polls in the country, a senior EC official said on condition of anonymity.

“For now, we have not formally revised our previous decision that bars the government from introducing the budget before completion of local level elections. But this provision could be changed if the government launches the budget to give continuity to policies and programmes of existing fiscal policy,” the official added.

The constitution has clearly mentioned that the budget should be presented in Parliament on the 15th day of the Nepali calendar month of Jestha, which falls on May 29 this year.

But some of the political parties previously said that the government should not be allowed to launch the budget on the day stipulated by the constitution because the second phase of polls is scheduled for June 14. These political parties had argued that introduction of the budget on May 29 may influence results of the election to be held on June 14 because of announcement of programmes aimed at swaying votes.

Earlier, Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara was open to launching the budget after completion of local level elections by suspending the constitutional provision for this year. But he had warned such a move could set a wrong precedent, as leaders could resort to the same measure in the future, delaying the introduction of the budget.

However, top leaders of the ruling and opposition parties on Monday discussed the possibility of introducing a partial budget on May 29 without including new programmes and policies. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli. They have also agreed to allow the government to introduce a supplementary budget after completion of local polls.

Chief Election Commissioner Yadav’s comments came a few days after this deal was reached.

Published: 11-05-2017 08:33

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