HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Madhesi intellectuals and some political leaders have urged the government to consider Madhes population and Human Development Index as the major yardsticks to allocate budget for the region.
Economist Dr Umashankar Prasad presenting a comparative study of budgetary allocation for Madhes region at a talk programme organised by the Nepal Madhes Foundation (NMF) today said budgetary allocation for Madhes region which is home to half of the country’s population was not more than 22 per cent.
In an average, Prasad added, Madhes get only 17-19 per cent of the budget. He said budget for Madhes jumped to whopping 144 per cent in the period between 063-64 and 066-067 fiscal thanks to Madhes movement.
According to Prasad’s study, the government’s per capita expenditure was Rs 14,883 in hills and Rs 7,985 whereas the figure for Madhes was just Rs 4,078 in the 066-067 fiscal. He said it was okay for the government to earmark more for hill region on account of lack of infrastructure compared to Terai region, but the disparity was huge between the hills and the Terai.
Tula Narayan Sah, Managing Director of the NMF said the flat geography was Madhes strength, yet the region lagged in development due to lack of political commitment and good governance.
Former Finance Secretary Bidhyadhar Mallik said Madhes was getting relatively less budget in terms of per capita expenditure compared to hill and mountain region, but the government is compelled to develop infrastructure in hill regions as well. “Building infrastructures in hill region costs more compared to Madhes,” he added. Some economists argue that the budgets of the central offices based in Kathmandu valley should not be included in the hill category while making budgetary comparison.
Sarvendranath Shukla, vice chairman, Terai Madhes Democratic Party said Madhes should get enough budget so that the region could develop itself into good transit point between China and India taping the potential offered by remarkable growth of trade between the two big neighbours.
Ratneswor Lal Kayastha, spokesperson for the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal said Madhesi could witness serious problems of floodings and desertification if it did not get enough budgets to control deforestation of Chure range.
On his part, bureaucrat Ashok Jha said Madhesis needed to be involved in all levels of budgetary preparation. Speakers said the government should devise a policy that could nip the chances of ruling parties or policymakers allocating budget for their political constituencies.
Some other speakers highlighted the need to open factories of chemical and organic fertilizers to sustain the agro-economy of the food basket region. They also spoke of the need of sectoral development of the regional economy.