Rueful experts click tongues at budget

KATHMANDU: In a post=budget interaction here today, economists and entrepreneurs doubted the implementation of the budget and also whether the revenue and gross domestic production (GDP) targets would be met.

The budget is too big compared to available resources, said Pradeep Man Vaidhya of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

“Existing government mechanisms cannot spend it successfully,” he said. According to Baidhya, the budget failed to assure an investment-friendly environment and that will be the main obstacle in achieving the growth targets of revenue and GDP.

“Allocation of one-third of resources to the productive sector cannot help achieve projected revenue and GDP,” he said. The budget has allocated a GDP target of 5.5 per cent and revenue target of Rs 176.50 billion for the fiscal year 2009-10, 24. 1 per cent more than the last fiscal year.

He also pointed out that the budget has not mentioned a single word about promotion of domestic goods in day-to-day use. However, he praised the budget for scrapping the scrap tax, local development tax and taking the inititative to end the syndicate system in transport sector.

Constituent Assembly member of Nepal Communist Party (UML) Dr Bijaya Poudel described the budget as a blend of socialist and capitalist characteristics. “It is an outcome of political negotiation. So, the budget is a fusion of priorities of Nepali Congress, CPN (UML) and Unified Nepal Communist Party (Maoist),” he said. The budget has accommodated various popular programmes of major three parties, he added

The budget does not reflect the aspirations of people living in a post-conflict period, said Maoist leader Devendra Poudel. According to Poudel, Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has not conceived the ground reality of Nepal in his budget. “It is not a socialist budget, it is a cocktail of socialism and capitalism,” he said. “The budget cannot give momentum to the nation.”

Economist and former vice-president of National Planning Commission Dr Prithvi Raj Ligal said, “The three-year rolling plan is not a new concept as described in the budget. It was initiated in the 1990s,” he said.

He also doubted the implementation of programmes and said, “How can the government implement local level development programmes when there are no local bodies?” He suggested Finance Minister Pandey to cut the local development budget and allocate to big infrastructure projects like hydropower.

Nepal Chambers of Commerce president Surendra Bir Malakar expressed dismay saying, “The budget has neglected the role of the private sector in the economy,” he said. It would not be a success, he added.

In another context, Finance Minister Pandey’s economic advisor Keshav Acharya clarified that revision in salary of civil servants was not possible in the fiscal year 2009-10. “The decision cannot be revised,” he said.