President hints at populist programmes in upcoming budget

- RAJESH KHANAL, Kathmandu

May 4, 2019-

President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Friday presented the government’s annual policy and programme for the fiscal year 2019-20.

 Through the main policy document that sets the basis for the budget of the next fiscal year, the government has hinted at introducing populist programmes through the budget to be presented before the Legislature Parliament on May 29. The policy and programme for the next fiscal year has accorded priority to National Pride Projects and priority projects, while giving equal importance to railways, tunnel way construction, hydropower, irrigation and airport, among other infrastructure.

Highlighting the government’s priority on prosperous Nepal, President said the government has endorsed 61 laws in the last year and the government is set to implement them in accordance with the Constitution. In the policies, the government reiterated making the public service effective, hassle-free and free of corruption.

Citing the shortfall of the target for capital expenses almost every year, the policy has highlighted revising the government mechanism of making the capital expenditure. With the slow pace of capital expenditure along with the rampant spending, generally occurring during the last hours of the fiscal year, this often raises the questions on the quality of the completed projects.

The 56th annual report of the Office of the Auditor General also unveiled that the government agencies spent 20.55 percent of the total allocated budget in the last month of the fiscal year 2017-18. “As the pattern of capital expenditure is not satisfactory, the government will improve the mechanism in the capital expenditure,” said the President in the statement.

In the policy and programme, the government has also continued its ambitious target of achieving double digit economic growth rate for the next four years. At present, the government is struggling to meet its targeted growth of 8 percent for the current fiscal year. Recently, the Central Bureau of Statistics has projected that the country’s economy will grow by 6.81 percent in 2018-19.  

Materialising the outcomes of the recently held Nepal Investment Summit 2019 and increase in domestic capital formation are among the government plan to inject the necessary capital in the infrastructure projects to achieve the high economic growth rate in the upcoming years. Besides, timely completion of the national level projects and facilitating the local level development projects by the sub-national governments are in the set targets of the policy and programmes.

President said the government would make equitable the distribution of financial transfer to the local governments. “While specific programmes of developments will the run at the provincial and local levels, the modality of the successful projects will also be implemented in other sub-national governments,” reads the President’s announcement.

The policy has targeted to provide jobs to 500,000 people in the next fiscal year. For the purpose, the government has planned to open an employment centre in all 753 local governments.

Increased use of the information technology in the entire value chain including the registration of the firms and the enforcement of e-governance system are among the government plans.

The policy also talks about bringing to operation the Gautam Buddha International Airport by December of 2019, completing construction of Pokhara International Airport by 2021 and starting construction of Nijgadh International Airport soon.

Likewise, operationalising the Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project in next two years and taking forward the construction work of the Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project are some of the infrastructure projects underscored by the policy.

For the development of agricultural sector, the government has planned to improve the farm sector’s productivity through facilitating the involvement of youth along with prioritising the commercial farming and contract farming.  Promotion of cash crops and off seasonal to increase export earnings, facilitating the use of solar power in underground water irrigation system and introduction of bioengineering in the fruits production are among the targets of the announced policy and programme.

Published: 04-05-2019 08:40

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