Bring partial budget now, supplementary budget later, urges opposition

Kathmandu, May 11

The main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) has suggested the government not to bring a full budget on May 28 amid the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on different sectors of the economy.

With just two weeks left for the government to present the budget, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is currently preparing the draft of the fiscal policy. However, NC leaders at the parliamentary discussion on the principles and priorities of the budget today said that bringing a full budget during this period of uncertainty will not be effective.

According to NC lawmakers, the government should present a partial budget of limited sized on May 28 and bring a supplementary budget later after the concrete impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and all the sectors has been thoroughly analysed.

“The exact impact of the coronavirus on the economy is still unpredictable and we do not know what challenges sectors like agriculture, remittance, tourism and service will face in the coming days. Amid such uncertainty, bringing a large-sized budget will not be sensible,” said NC lawmaker Minendra Rijal.

As per him, the government should later carry out a detailed assessment on the impact of the coronavirus by holding consultations with concerned stakeholders before bringing the supplementary budget. “The government has not been able to spend the budget and collect revenue properly. Thus, the government should not try to gain popularity by bringing a large-size budget in such a context,” added Rijal.

Similarly, lawmaker Binod Chaudhary said that the government and the entire nation will have to face a big financial crisis for a longer time if the industrial, business and service sectors are not protected at this critical time.

“Economies across the world today are adopting multiple financial and monetary measures to maintain a strong base of their economy during this crisis through relief packages of different nature for businesses,” said Chaudhary. “Thus, it is time now for the government to support and facilitate the private sector and businesses so that they can quickly recover and help upscale the economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada, while addressing the queries raised by lawmakers at the National Assembly on the principles and priorities of the budget, said that the budget will dwell on reviving the economy from the coronavirus and address various challenges in different sectors caused by the pandemic.

“With limited resources in hand, the budget will focus on sorting out challenges caused by the COVID-19. While existing projects will be reprioritised, priority will be given to national pride projects and other priority projects that are near completion,” said Khatiwada.

Presenting the principles and priorities of the budget in the Parliament on Sunday, the finance minister had said that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will chiefly dwell on resolving multi-lateral effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure achieving economic and developmental goals.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 12, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.