FM assures of yanking down price rise spiral

Kathmandu, January 17:

Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai today vowed to intervene in the market anytime if the prices don’t come down soon.

“The government will intervene in the market anytime, if prices don’t come down,” he said adding that even after international prices have come down, prices in the domestic market had not come down.

The fuel price has been lowered four times since October 25 but transport fares have not come down, a factor which is pushing market prices higher, said Dr Bhattarai blaming the transport entrepreneurs’ syndicate. He also suspected that some of the traders were making money at the people’s expense.

The central bank has targetted 7.5 per cent inflation but it is at 14.1 per cent, double the target and threatening the government for its ineffectiveness in controlling the price hike.

“The government has also been not able to spend more on development projects due to delay in budget presentation by two months and procedural hassles,” the finance minister admitted. “The government will speed up its development activities from this month.”

Revenue collection has been considerably satisfactory, as it is 35.4 per cent in the first four months and 33.1 per cent in the fifth month of the current fiscal year. Since six months of this fiscal year have already passed, the government has only six months left to prove itself.

Apart from this, the treasury is positive. “The government has Rs 13.22 billion surplus,” he informed. But that’s because there has been no development expenses in first six months.

The Nepal Development Forum (NDF) meeting - considered important for attracting foreign aid - is planned for March or early April, he said adding that the government was preparing a vision paper for the meet.

This government has been blamed for not creating any jobs. But, Dr Bhattarai is hopeful that the Self-Employment Programme will help create jobs

in the country. “Last week’s cabinet meeting has given the nod to this programme’s regulation,” the rebel-turned-minister said, adding that any Nepali youth can now avail of Rs 2 lakh without collateral.

“The government will give guarantee to the banks,” he said.

The government has also prepared to open cooperative shops — popularly known as cheap-priced shops — for the poor in VDCs but there are doubts that without a smooth supply system people won’t benefit from such shops even though the finance minister has promised to make the supply system smooth.

Apart from various development activities waiting to get a kick-start, he also said the much-touted Investment Board regulation and other procedural hurdles are being cleared for attracting more investment and the government is moving forward in the right direction for fulfilling the people’s aspirations. Dr Bhattarai has returned one of his official vehicles so as not to burden the national coffers.