General discussions on budget for FY 2015/16 begin at Parliament

KATHMANDU: The Legislature-Parliament has begun general discussions on the estimated statement of income and expenditure (budget) for the fiscal year 2015-16 that was presented by the government on Tuesday.

Prior to this, Minister for Finance Dr Ram Sharan Mahat presented a proposal at the parliament meeting, seeking the commencement of general discussions on the budget. Presenting the proposal, Minister Mahat said focus has been given to reconstruction and appropriation of balanced budget while formulating the budget for the new fiscal year.

The new budget has focused on implementation of the projects of national pride immediately, he said. The provision of acquiring authorisation from the National Planning Commission for the implementation of budget has been removed with a view to taking the budget to implementation phase as soon as possible, he said.

Taking part in the budget discussions, Nepali Congress Vice President Ram Chandra Poudel praised the budget stating that it was formulated with a bountiful heart of the Finance Minister.

The budget has been successful in addressing the post-disaster crisis, he argued, hailing the decision to continue the social security programmes, to give priority to poverty alleviation, balanced development, to give special focus to uplift the poor, endangered and dalit community and announcement to construct postal highway.

Similarly, CPN-UML's Surendra Pandey, also the former Finance Minister, said the budget was the not clear about the ways to reduce foreign trade deficit.

The budget was brought with a narrow mindset as even the presence of ruling partner was ignored during its formulation; he articulated his discontents to the process of budget preparation. It has failed to incorporate all, he added.

UCPN-Maoist senior leader and former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai said the budget has failed to identify a policy necessary to attain economic growth rate, pre-condition for graduating the country to the status of a developing one from a least developing status.

He said, "Although all the political leadership as well the country, people were mentally prepaid for the budget, this year's budget has failed to cash on the opportunity to be an epochal."

"The budget has also failed to enthuse public for the reconstruction of their quake-damaged physical infrastructures," stated Dr Bhattarai, arguing that the budget had only incorporated the general programmes targeted towards the works of general reforms rather than for the changes in the economic framework ?(sanrachanatmak pariwartan)

Claiming that the announcement of the budget in Nepal had not risen above the traditional norms, former Finance Minister Bhattarai blamed that the budget allocated for the reconstruction was announced without adequate homework.

Stating that the budget should have been a complete document, navigating the country's economy rather than being a mere estimation of the country's yearly income and expenses, Dr Bhattrai, also the former Prime Minister, added," The budget ought to be prepared within the ambit of Principles and Priorities."

Expressing dismay at this year's budget announcement, Dr Bhattarai smirked, "Looking at the budget announcement this year, it appears to me that the Finance Minister himself was in quandary while announcing the budget."

Speaking in the similar vein, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) Chairperson Kamal Thapa remarked that the current budget was an utter disappointment to the public who were looking forward to a courageous and epochal one.

Stating that this budget was oblivious to being a guiding force at policy and economic framework, Chairperson Thapa opined that although plenty of budget was allocated in view of reconstruction, the budget could not assure of its effective implementation.

Madheshi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic leader and MP Jitendra Narayan Dev, however, lauded the budget citing that the budget too had taken into the consideration the under construction of Hulaki Marga, determining a timeline for its completion in addition.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader and MP Deepak Bohara was of the opinion that the budget had failed to prioritise the reconstruction of the quake-damaged physical infrastructures.

Brajesh Kumar Gupta, leader of Terai Madhesh Lokatantrik Party opined that the current budget was against the welfare of the farmers. He further said that the budget lacked the programmes aiming to achieve financial growth and expending employment among others.

Prior to today's meeting, Chief Whip of Nepali Congress, Chinkaji Shrestha had drawn the government's attention towards the rescue and relocation of the people facing risk of blockage of the Seti River in Gorkha district.

Speaking on a different note, CA member Nisha Kumari Shah demanded with the government to probe into the cases of some high-ranking government officials and some members of the Council of Ministers supposedly obtaining the Permanent Resident (PR) certificate of various countries abroad.

She demanded the probe in light of the recent endorsement of the Bill barring Nepali government employees from acquiring PR overseas.

Speaker of the Legislature-Parliament, Subash Nembang informed that the lawmakers were given right hours to discuss on the recently announced budget.