FM steps on higher ground than Dr Bhattarai

KATHMANDU: Finance Ministry Surendra Pandey followed his predecessor Dr Baburam Bhattarai and projected 2.04 per cent more revenue collection to reach Rs 161.3 billion for the fiscal year 2009-10.

Last year, the Maoist-led government had set the highest-ever target of Rs 141.73 billion and it exceeded the target and is collecting Rs 142 billion according to revised estimation. Bhattarai succeeded due to various reasons like Voluntary Declaration of Income Source (VDIS) scheme and Education Service Tax (EST). The government also revitalised the revenue mechanisms.

"The revenue target of Rs 161.3 billion is ambitious if not over-ambitious," said Dr Shanker Sharma, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC).

Former Finance Minister Dr Bhattarai's revenue target was 32.1 per cent higher and which had been dubbed over-ambitious by economists. However, the government exceeded the target of Rs 141.73 billion. Can Pandey repeat the success story? Dr Sharma said cautiously that it could be possible, adding, "Even if Pandey fails to collect the revenue there would be no problem as the development expenses were spent this year." He pointed out that the budget would come to around Rs 255 billion in that case.

According to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the previous

government had Rs 21.53 billion deposit with NRB till

May 14. Pandey has proposed to allocate Rs 4 billion

from the surplus treasury to pay for the small farmers' loan waiver scheme. Dr Bhattarai had allocated the surplus treasury on electricity transmission line under his ambitious programme of generating 10,000 megawatts (MW) power in 10 years.

The revenue growth target was 11.5 per cent in the fiscal year 2002-03 while the target was reduced at 10.9 in next year. In the fiscal year 2004-05, the revenue target was Rs 12.5 per cent more than previous year. But, a sharp fall in target was noticed in the fiscal year 2005-06 as the target was just 3.1 per cent more than 2004-05. After 2004-05, the next two years observed revenue growth target of 21.3 per cent and 22.7 per cent, respectively.