Nepal | July 15, 2020

Budget focuses on infrastructure to generate extra jobs

UMESH POUDEL
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KATHMANDU, MAY 28

The government has allocated a balanced budget to accelerate the overall development activities with focus on roads, energy, hydropower, rail, urban development and drinking water, among others.

It also looks like the government is a bit ambitious in generating employment opportunities for more number of unemployed youths in various development projects as the economy has been massively hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has continued with the Prime Minister Employment Programme and allocated a budget of Rs 11.60 billion to generate more employment opportunities. It plans to generate additional 200,000 jobs in the upcoming year.


Roads, rails and bridges

While delivering the budget for next fiscal year in the Federal Parliament today, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada informed that the budget for the road sector has been increased massively with due emphasis on various strategic road networks.

The budget has focused on building the North-South strategic road network connecting China and India to balance the road connectivity. The government also plans to build dedicated highways along Mechi, Tamor, Koshi, Tamakoshi, Trishuli, Kaligandaki, Bheri, Karnali and Mahakali river corridors and allotted a budget of Rs 8.16 billion for the purpose.

The government also plans to upgrade the East-West highway into a four-lane highway as per the standards of the Asian Highway within three years and allocated Rs 12.21 billion for it.

Budget has been allotted to conduct a detailed study report and start upgradation works by next fiscal.

Similarly, the budget has allocated Rs 8.27 billion for construction of Mid-Hill Highway within three years and Rs 7.1 billion for the Postal Highway with a target to complete it in five years. The government has also separated a budget of Rs 8.93 billion to complete the Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track within three years and Rs 2.26 billion for the Special Tarai Areas Prosperous Project.

Meanwhile, Rs 16.30 billion has been allotted for maintenance of roads across the country and Rs 880 million to construct a motorable road along the Mahakali River. Similarly, a budget of Rs 10.91 billion has been allocated for construction of 10 special bridges across various rivers. Moreover, an additional 250 new bridges and other 1,300 local bridges will be built in the upcoming year.

Likewise, within next fiscal all district headquarters will be connected to the road network and strategic road networks will be built in every constituency, the finance minister said.

To ease traffic congestion in various parts of Kathmandu valley, the budget has mentioned that the government will build an underpass in New Baneshwor Chowk, tunnel or flyover in Tinkune-Koteshwor-Jadibuti section, flyover from Maitighar to Tripureshwor and upgrade the existing road section from Suryabinayak to Dhulikhel of Araniko Highway.

Likewise, the government has targeted to complete the detailed project report of Tokha-Khahare-Gurjubhanjyang; Butwal-Palpa Siddhababa; Koteshwor-Jadibuti; Khurkot-Chiyabari; BP Nagar-Khutiya-Dipayal and Thankot-Chitlang routes in the next fiscal.

Moreover, Rs 8.66 billion has been set aside for the detailed project report of the remaining part of the East-West Electrified Railway, Kathmandu-Birgunj Railway and Kathmandu-Kyirong Railway. Likewise, operation and management of Janakpur-Jainagar Railway and construction of Bardibas-Nijgadh section of East-West Railway will also be taken up.

Moreover, the government plans to issue electronic driving licence and also upgrade vehicle registration plates as per international standards with embossed number. Discounts will also be provided on route permit, taxes and bank loans to transport entrepreneurs who have all been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acknowledging that inland waterways are the cheapest medium of transportation, the finance minister said the government will develop related policies within next fiscal year. It has to be noted that the government has already completed the feasibility study of water transportation system along the Koshi and Narayani rivers.

The government has allocated a budget of Rs 138.80 billion for development of physical infrastructure and transport sector through the federal budget for next fiscal year 2020-21.


Energy

Meanwhile, the government has mentioned that as energy is the major source of economic transformation in the country, due emphasis will be given to the sector. To make the country self-reliant in energy, the government plans to balance the number of run-of-the-river, peakingrun-of-river and reservoir hydropower projects which will help manage the energy supply chain.

The government has announced plans to add 1,300 megawatts of electricity by the next fiscal year, including that generated by Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project, Sanjen project, Rasuwagadhi project, Mid-Bhotekoshi project and other projects being developed by the private sector.

Moreover, budget has allocated Rs 36.2 billion for construction of various substations and transmission lines across the country.

As per the budget announcement, the government will complete the flagship programme of ‘Ujyalo Nepal’ within two years in all the provinces and has allocated Rs four billion for the purpose and Rs 4.13 billion has been allocated for the Alternative Energy Programme.

The government has also stated that if any person or institution has received the electricity development licence but not started any construction activities, then the government will scrap such licences.

The budget has also allocated Rs four billion for rural electrification.

The government also plans to develop more micro-hydro projects and biogas plants to electrify rural areas of the country.

For the development of the overall power sector, the government has allocated budget of Rs 83.49 billion for next fiscal year.


Water

The government has claimed the Melamchi Drinking Water Project will be completed within the ongoing fiscal and has allocated Rs 5.46 billion for the second phase of work. Similarly, the budget has allocated Rs 5.89 billion for drinking water and sewage management in Kathmandu valley. It has allocated total of Rs 43.10 billion to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.


Irrigation

The budget has announced the government will construct 247 deep bore wells to irrigate an additional 22,000 hectares of land and allocated Rs 2.32 billion for the purpose. Also, Mahakali Irrigation Project has been added as a national pride project and allocated Rs 10.25 billion for it.


Reconstruction

Stating all reconstruction works will be wrapped up within next fiscal, the government has allocated Rs 55 billion for reconstruction of infrastructure damaged by the 2015 earthquakes.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 29, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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