Budget scores over predecessor

KATHMANDU: Despite the budget 2009-10 having tried to identify obstacles and develop new strategic plans for various sectors, people related to those respective sectors opined that there are still some issues left untouched by the budget.

According to the budget, a High Level Investment Board will be formed under the chairmanship of the prime minister, with the objective of attracting national and foreign investment in heavy industries and infrastructure and create a conducive environment for them.

Cottage Village will be established to encourage small and cottage industries. The budget is quite positive towards the export sector, said Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal (FHAN) president Pushkar Man Shakya. He, however, complained that the handicraft sector was not properly addressed in the budget. According to him, it is the only sector that registered a growth of 28 per cent in the Nepal Rastra Bank export data. "Handicraft comes under small and cottage industries, and it is a sector that employs the largest number of people," said Shakya. FHAN had proposed for handicraft village to promote handicraft export along with tourism with the name Handicraft Village. Shakya said he was disappointed at the budget addressing the programme as Cottage Village.

Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATTA) president Ram Kaji Koney said the budget failed to promote the tourism sector to the status of a national Industry and grant it the facilities that industries are enjoying. He added that the budget also failed to address the tourist transportation facility. He, however, said that the budget tried to diversify tourist destinations, which was quite appreciable. New road accident laws, new policy regarding bandhs and strike and emphasis on road construction are the main points that are truly noticeable in this budget, said Koney.

Travel Agents' Association Nepal president Jyoti Adhikari said the budget tried to touch many issues of the tourism sector and that it would be a popular budget but still its implementation needs to be watched. "Compared to the old budget, the new one has tried to touch a number of tourism issues," said Adhikari. Construction of fast track roads, development of traffic, tax issues and programmes for social security to represent Nepal as a safe tourist destination are praiseworthy, he added.

According to the budget, additional places for paragliding and rafting, which are major factors in getting foreign tourists to extend their stay and also for internal tourists, will be set up. Paragliding at Gheralik of Arghakhanchi and feasibility study on rafting operation will be carried out from Balefi to Chatara and Ramdighat to Narayanghat.

Birat, Bideha, Sahales, Simroun and Lumbini in the Terai-Madhes and Karnali-Chisapani will be developed as tourism spots. Pathibhara, Barah, Pasupatinath, Manakamana, Muktinath, Sorgadwari and Mallikarjun will be promoted as seven Spiritual Destinations.

Installation of a new radar at Tribhuvan International Airport will be initiated to make flights reliable and systematic. The runway will be expanded to minimize air traffic problems. Construction of an international airport in Nijgadh of Bara will start on a high priority basis.