Consensus had been the buzzword for quite long, but it never materialised to make political matters easier. However, Tuesday saw a positive mood built in four hours that made the ruling coalition give up its stance for a full-fledged budget, and it agreed to a “partial budget” through an ordinance, as per the demands of the opposition parties, especially the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. In fact, without the agreement among them, the Bhattarai-led government could not have gone for a regular full-budget as per the provision of Article 96 (A) of the Interim Constitution. What has belatedly emerged is that the government will have to downsize the next fiscal year’s budget for presentation. Of course, there are things which a downsized budget will not be able to achieve, but sans a parliament and only a caretaker government at the helms, the partial budget agreement ends the long drawn out tussle between the coalition government and the opposition parties represented in the dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA). However, the size of the budget that will be presented is still not clear as differences still exist as to how much it will be. Now, at least the possibility of a confrontation between the two sides and, also between the prime minister and the President, have been averted with good intentions.
Of course, further parleys among the parties are essential to come to the exact size of the downsized budget. This may be one instance where the Maoist-led government has bowed down to the demands of the NC, UML and the other opposition parties. This is because the government well knows the dangerous water it will be treading on if it stuck to its design of
going for the full-fledged budget. The imminent confrontation with the
President, who seems to support a budget that
would not exceed one-third of the total expenditure of the current fiscal year, could have become
a possibility if the government had stuck to the full-fledged budget stance.
The agreement is a compromise formula which has to be taken up as per the spirit of the Interim Constitution, because the coalition government and the opposition have not come to consensus for a regular full budget. If there had been consensus among the parties, the regular budget for the next fiscal year would have been a possibility. For the moment, it looks fine that a budget for 2012-13 will come but in a smaller format. This may bring some problems for propping up the economy. If a full-fledged budget had been the possibility, it could have been the right thing to inject vigour into the economy. But, when political meddling comes into play the economy has to suffer. For the next fiscal year, the economy cannot become more vibrant as the required inputs for the full show cannot come from a budget which will only be a partial one.
It is political consensus that only can see an end to deadlocks like the one related to the budget. In a similar vein, it could be a major breakthrough if the parties agreed on the means to write the constitution. Dwelling only on partisan interests cannot be justified in a democracy, the parties must budge from their rigid stances towards political consensus.
As we observe the World Population Day, it is high time something was done about reproductive health which remains one of the pressing issues. Problems of reproductive health has been found to be the leading cause of ill health and death of women of childbearing age. The slogan for this year’s World Population Day is “Universal Access to Reproductive Health”, which is apt. There is every need to provide access to reproductive health. A large number of people do not have access to family planning. Moreover, we should ponder over the fact that the world population is a huge 7 billion, and there are over 26 million people in Nepal alone. Every year 75 million are added to the world population. This has serious ramifications for it has led to scarcity to food and water in many parts of the world, among other things.
Something needs to be done urgently so that the peoaple in the world do not suffer. The World Population Day which was observed Wednesday should inspire all to work to address the predicament of the people inhabiting the globe with special focus on reproductive health.