FM’s meet with donors ahead of NDF plenum

Kathmandu, March 2:

The Finance Ministry today held extensive discussions with Kathmandu-based foreign donors at the ministry here as a preliminary preparation of the Nepal Development Forum (NDF) meeting that will be held on May 12-14 in Kathmandu.

Addressing donors, Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai said that peace, democracy and development would be the three major agenda of the government for the NDF meeting. “Without peace, there can be no development and without development there can be no peace,” said Dr Bhattarai.

At the meeting attended by representatives of donors including World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), DfID, IMF, DANIDA, India, China and Finland, he also

highlighted his government’s foreign aid priorities. “The government will come up with realistically set up clear priorities of development for the coming three years before the NDF meet,” he assured them.

Dr Bhattarai urged the donors to set programmes based on Nepal’s priorities. “While preparing programmes at local levels, avoid the overlapping, duplication and fragmentation of aid,” the finance minister requested them adding that they should realise the constraints and acknowledge the realities of the transition phase in Nepal.

Stressing on Nepal’s transition period, he urged the representatives of Nepal’s

development partners to adopt a ‘transitional sensitive approach’ to development needs rather than standard normal applicable approach.

On the occasion, the first finance minister of the youngest republic also gave a brief overview of the implementation of the current fiscal year budget. “The macro economic situation is sound and most of the indicators are satisfactory,” he said adding that revenue collection was exceeding the target.

Though he accepted the government’s failure in kickstarting development activities and making capital expenditure unsatisfactory, he claimed that the budget deficit was within the appropriate limit and that external assistance also was coming as committed. He voiced the hope that development activities would pick up in the later months of the fiscal year.

In the meeting, the donors appreciated the government’s efforts and Dr Guna Nidhi

Sharma, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) — the national think-tank — also presented a paper. Finance Secretary Rameshwor Khanal also made a presentation before the donors. “The donors are very enthusiastic about the NDF preparations,” he said.

Dr Bhattarai informed donors that the next fiscal year’s budget would be presented by late May or early June. The budget is expected to be around Rs 263 billion. “Presenting the budget by late May or early June will give the government ample time to implement it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the secretaries also briefed Dr Bhattarai on the current state of budget implementation under their respective ministries.