Budget: Beyond the eight-point agreement

Kathmandu, July 6:

At a time when economic issues are being dominated by politics and economy is facing a historic crisis, Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, finance minister is going to present a budget for fiscal year 2006-07 which is termed a ‘tricky’. On top of the economic problems, questions over the effectiveness of the eight-point pact reached with Maoists is quiring the pitch.

Dr Raghav Dhoj Pant, former member of the National Planning Commission and executive director of Institute for Development Studies (IfDS), expressed serious concerns about the status of the economy and economic issues being ‘defeated’ by political developments.

Dr Pant presented a paper ‘An Eight Point Agreement and Budget: Citizens’ Concerns and suggestions’ before journalists at his chamber. He said that decisions have to be taken at the political level on many subjects relating to the economic sector and the budget mainly should be prepared keeping in mind the economic issues connected to the eight point accord.

Dr Pant demanded that the impact of budgetary allocations on the eight-point agreement, the country’s law and order situation and development should also be considered. In this context, he raised concerns on the budget formation procedure, budget approval procedure and budget implementation.

As per article 4 of the eight-point accord between seven political parties and the Maoists, the present government is only an interim government to form another interim government, said Dr Pant.

He added that if the eight-point agenda is to succeed, the budget for fiscal year 2006-07 can be prepared only after an interim constitution is framed and interim government of the seven party alliance as well as the Maoists, is formed.

Finance’s minister’s stance of allocating budget for the Maoists who have agreed to a ceasefire and preparing to join mainstream politics is quite ‘surprising’ and may invite dangerous situation in the country, said Dr Pant.

He has reservations on the budget implementation and timeframe. He wondered when the state is considering changing the system of governance, how appropriate is it for the finance minister of one system of government to prepare a budget for another government?

Dr Pant urged the making of the budget to be different compared to the past. He said that if the budget is presented in a traditional style, there is a strong possibility that the government would lose its credibility and people’s faith. It may create chaos in the relationship between the seven parties and the Maoists, he feared.