Print Edition - 2017-05-22 | News
Annual policies reach President
- Fiscal programmes likely to be read out on Wednesday
May 22, 2017-
The government’s policies and programmes for the fiscal year 2017-18 are likely to be announced on Wednesday, incorporating a plan to empower the local federal units by allowing them to frame the annual budget on their own.
The policies and programmes, based on which the annual budget is framed, were endorsed by the Cabinet on Sunday and forwarded to the President’s Office. President Bidya Devi Bhandari is expected to present the policies and programmes in Parliament on Wednesday.
“The major highlight of the policies and programmes is the decision to devolve the responsibility of budget formulation for local bodies to authorities at the grassroots,” said Himal Sharma, personal secretary to Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
This is a major policy departure as the central government has been playing a bigger role in finalising annual budgetary programmes for the local bodies.
The policies and programmes, according to Sharma, will also incorporate plans to hold provincial and federal elections in 2017-18. “Rest is continuation of the policies and programmes introduced in the current fiscal year, as the Election Commission has barred the government from announcing new plans until the local elections are over,” he added.
This implies that the budget for upcoming fiscal will not incorporate new programmes.
Earlier, opposition parties, mainly the CPN-UML, had said the government should not be allowed to have new plans and programmes in the annual budget, fearing they could sway votes in the second phase of local elections. The Election Commission had also backed the call.
Nepal held its first phase of local level elections on May 14 and is expected to conduct the second round polling on June 14. But the constitution requires the budget to be presented in Parliament on the 15th day of the Nepali calendar month of Jestha, which falls on May 29 this year. This means the budget has to be introduced before completion of the second round elections.
The opposition parties and Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav have, however, said that the government would not be barred from launching the budget on May 29 if it does not include new policies and programmes.
“The opposition parties including the UML have some reservations about the budget. We are in talks with them. Yesterday, dialogues were held between three major political parties in this regard and they are moving forward positively,” Rastriya Samachar Samiti, the state news agency, quoted Communications Minister Surendra Kumar Karki as saying.
The opposition parties, however, have said they would not bar the government from introducing a supplementary budget with new programmes and policies after holding second round of local level elections on June 14.
Published: 22-05-2017 07:30