Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel has said that saving the lives of the people is the priority of the government at the moment. He has also requested everyone to join the campaign against COVID-19 pandemic.

Stating that the government is continuing its efforts to minimise and prevent the damage caused by the second wave of COVID-19, Minister Paudel urged everyone put in as much effort as possible from their respective areas.

Receiving the budget suggestion given by the Society of Economic Journalists Nepal (SEJON) today for the coming fiscal year 2021-22, Minister Paudel said that testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients is a priority of the government.

"We are moving ahead on the basis of the lessons learnt from the first wave of the pandemic," he said. The federal government is coordinating with provincial and local governments to better the environment for the public, he added.

Paudel further said that initiatives are being taken to bring more vaccines.

While admitting that the second wave of the pandemic will again affect the economy, which was on the road to recovery from the first wave, Finance Minister Poudel said that the primary focus, however, will be on saving the lives of the people.

SEJON had suggested managing personal income tax, value added tax, customs, public enterprises, industry, agriculture, tourism, hydropower, infrastructure, banks and cooperatives, investment, labour and employment, state, local level, insurance, economic governance, and financial resources.

SEJON President Bhim Gautam suggested providing concessional loans to journalists, arranging fellowships as an incentive for investigative news, bringing concrete programmes for professional security and capacity building of journalists, and programmes for the development of economic beats.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.