NAREC proposes Rs 157b budget

Kathmandu, June 22:

National Economic and Development Research Council (NAREC) — an independent think tank — has proposed a model budget of Rs 157 billion for the fiscal year 2007-08.

Presenting the fifth edition of the model budget today, Dr Chandra Mani Adhikari, president of NAREC, said that the primary focus of the budget should be at institutionalising Loktantra, generating more employment as well as developing infrastructure with emphasis on hydropower and transportation.

According to the NAREC’s model budget, the government should allocate Rs 90 billion for the recurrent and Rs 53 billion for the capital expenditures and Rs 14 billion for the principal repayment. “However, the total budget outlay may go up to Rs 162 billion, if the Constituent Assembly polls are held and the government hikes the salary of civil servants,” the model budget states.

“The budget is based on a projection that the government could mobilise Rs 95 billion of revenue, Rs 50 billion of development assistance and loans as well as internal borrowings of Rs 12 billion in the next fiscal year,” said Dr Adhikari.

He, however, raised concern over the government’s inability to spend capital expenditure, due to lack of concrete political will and administrative mechanism at the local level. NAREC has projected that the economy would grow at the rate of four to 4.5 per cent in the next fiscal year, provided the smooth peace process. “Moreover, the budget should take an initiative in revitalising the economy and cleansing the political shadow over economy,” Dr Adhikari added.

The priority sectors that NAREC has identified for the budget include physical infrastructure development, reconstruction and rehabilitation as well as agricultural development, tourism and social sector. It has also urged the government to make transport sector, particularly the highways, and industrial areas as strike free zones and provide adequate security.

Under an immediate action plan, NAREC has proposed 15 various programmes for reconstruction and rehabilitation to kick start the economy, whereas it has proposed 27 different programmes for the mobilisation of youth and employment generation.

Stating agriculture as the base of the Nepali economy, Dr Adhikari stressed on the need for commercialisation of agriculture through cooperatives. For which NAREC has suggested 30 different programmes and policies to improve the Nepali agriculture sector as well as establish link between the farmers and markets.

The other major areas in which the NAREC has stressed the need for increasing public investment is social sector. It has also recommended 24 programmes for education and 18 for health sector.

Similarly, NAREC has also urged the government to bring the special packages for women, marginalised indigenous groups, dalits, Madhesis, Karnali region and downtrodden community in the budget.

Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (SEJON) and Educational Journalists Group (EJG) were, on the occasion, felicitated with the NAREC National Award-2007.