Budget discussion affected due to lockdown

Kathmandu, March 31

As the government has imposed a nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus that has been declared a pandemic, regular discussions related to the upcoming fiscal budget have been affected.

All such discussions have been postponed for the time being.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) — the apex planning body of the country — had scheduled to hold budgetary discussions with the ministries on March 22, however, the coronavirus outbreak has affected our schedule, informed Sushil Bhatta, member of NPC.

He added that the schedule for the budget discussions has been changed. “What we have to realise is that with the changed global scenario due to the coronavirus, the government’s priority has also shifted and we need to make necessary adjustments in the upcoming budget,” he stated.

“The coronavirus outbreak has changed the overall scenario. So, as soon as we are able to we will hold in-depth discussions with the ministries and plan the budget accordingly,” mentioned Bhatta.

Against this current global backdrop, NPC is preparing to reduce the ceiling that had already been fixed for the next fiscal year’s budget. The commission has initiated preparations to amend the ceiling after the coronavirus narrowed the budget resources.

According to NPC, a meeting of resources committee will be held in a few days. In the meeting, the committee will prepare a new ceiling based on analysis of contraction in the economy, pressure on resources allocation and modified priorities due to the coronavirus.

Earlier, the planning commission had set a ceiling of Rs 1.6 trillion for next fiscal year’s budget.

“The country’s economic situation has drastically changed at present and there is no way that we can work as per our earlier discussions,” said Bhatta, adding that it is necessary to change the ceiling and set new priorities in order to move forward in this new context.

The coronavirus has moreover affected the government’s revenue collection, which basically means that the government’s source of income has weakened. Similarly, the situation has also changed as international aid will also have an impact on operations to project management, he added.