Budget private sector-friendly, claims FinMin

Kathmandu, June 1

Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada today said the budget for 2018-19 announced on Tuesday was private sector-friendly, and had for the first time come up with a policy of protecting national industries.

Responding to queries raised by lawmakers in the National Assembly meeting, Minister Khatiwada said the government was coming up with a private sector-friendly one-door system, for which Investment Board Act and Public-Private Partnership Act would be put in place.

Referring to budget announcements such as tax waivers to industries that re-invest their profits and encouraging companies to adopt public corporation model to make them transparent, the minister urged all not to make the opinion just going by complaints of some businesspersons who had been used to taking VAT returns facility utilising loopholes.

On comments that the revised income tax slab would discourage the private sector, Minister Khatiwada said it would not affect the private sector as institutional income tax rates were not changed. “If people earning high, or saving high, do not pay more tax, the state cannot fulfil its responsibilities on the way towards socialism,” he said.

He also said that the state should play the leadership role in order to implement inclusive and socialist economy, but added that the state was not trying to be all powerful.

“The state, the private sector and cooperatives are complementary, which is also a constitutional mandate. That’s why the private sector cannot shrink just because of one finance minister’s efforts,” he said. “We respect the rights the constitution has guaranteed to the private sector.”

According to the minister, budget size is 40 per cent larger than the amended budget estimation for the present fiscal year and was divided among all 761 governments as per the constitutional provision.

As far as government’s revenue estimations are concerned, Khatiwada urged all not to term Rs 831 billion revenue estimation meagre (compared to Rs 730 billion of the current fiscal) as if the revenue target of

Rs 152 billion of lower bodies were added, the budget would be targeting around 35 per cent revenue growth.

According to Khatiwada, since this is just the first year of the implementation of federalism, just one budget cannot ensure that all local bodies are delegated all the powers. Stating that the need of the hour was boosting the institutional capacity of lower bodies, he said powers would be delegated to lower bodies as the capacity built up.

“The federal government, provinces and local levels are complementary, not competitive. It is not a matter who gives to whom; we want to work in partnership,” he said, acknowledging that division of revenue and expenditure was just not complete, and it would be made more managed in coming years.

On the Rs 156 billion budget with the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, he urged all not to smell autocracy in the funds which were mostly of the National Reconstruction Authority (Rs 151 billion) which is under the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.

The finance minister also clarified that programmes, including President Chure Conservation Programme, President Women Empowerment Programme, Prime Minister Employment Programme or Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Programme, were under concerned ministries, and not under the prime minister.

Finance Minister Khatiwada also expressed commitment that the government was always ready to boost resources to ensure that the judicial process was faster and people’s access to justice was simplified.

As for issues related to social security raised by the opposition, Minister Khatiwada said the form of social security was being revised on the basis of the effectiveness and added that social security might come in different forms such as housing and health insurance.

“If you are only concerned about cash distribution, it is a scheme that we introduced, so we have not forgotten it,” he said.