BUDGET 2007-08 : MPs for high priority to agriculture

Kathmandu, July 1:

Parliamentarians today speaking at a Parliamentary Finance Committee discussion on budget, underscored the need to give high priority to agriculture sector in the budget.

“Formulate development plans with a regional balance,” they suggested adding that the budget should take a revolutionary step in agricultural policies as well as a paradigm shift on development plans.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, CPN-UML General Secretary and lawmaker said the budget must be guided by the common principles of the eight parties and the Interim Constitution. “The agricultural policies must be revolutionary,” he said.

Likewise, the UML lawmaker Jhalanath Khanal opined that budget should be formulated according to the people’s mandate.

Nepali Congress MP Dr Ram Baran Yadav highlighted the need to provide subsidies to agriculture, irrigation, food and electricity, among others.

CPN-Maoists lawmaker Janardan Sharma slammed the budget concept prepared by finance minister Dr Ram Saran Mahat as ‘pointless’. He said that the 12-point pact reached between the government and the Maoists must be the basis of the budget. Meanwhile, pointing that the majority of farmers were in financial debt, the legislators including Hridayesh Tripathi, Bal Bahadur KC and Govinda Bikram Shah urged the government to pardon their debt.

Prior to the discussion, finance minister Dr Mahat briefed on the concept of the budget for the next fiscal year. In the concept paper, Dr Mahat underscored the need to reduce the loss incurred in every sector in the past and maintain economic discipline. “The main goal of the budget will be institutionalisation of Loktantra to ensure political and socio-economic transformation in the long run,” he said.

Mahat in his concept paper has included the constituent assembly elections expenses, PLA cantonment management, increment in civil servant’s salary and mounting losses incurred by Nepal Oil Corp as major sectors likely to attract mo-re recurrent expenditures.

Besides sustenance of lasting peace and strengthening security, he reiterated that the budget will focus on reconstruction and rehabilitation with a special focus on infrastructure development. Social sectors and upliftment of marginalised, Dalits and women from backward regions will get high priorities in the budget, Dr Mahat added.

Meanwhile, government is set to present policies and programmes for the next fiscal year on Wednesday.