Finance Minister vows to carry out budgetary reforms

Kathmandu, September 20:

Finance Minister Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai said he would implement the budget by hook or crook.

It may be noted that some economists have termed the budget an “ambitious and populist document,” saying that it is not possible to raise the revenue as specified for the Rs 236.15 billion budget.

Addressing a programme here today, Dr Bhattarai said, “It is not difficult to implement the budget since it was prepared under accepted international norms.”

He said the government had political will to implement the budget. The government will constitute a high-level committee under the coordination of the Prime Minister to monitor the commissioning of development projects, he said, adding that it would also review the budget implementation every four months.

Stating that the budget was prepared with the aim of giving people a feel of the newly established republican order, the Finance Minister said the government itself would commission 60 development projects. Among others, the government will build Pushpa Lal Lok Marg, Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track, Mechi-Mahakali Electric Railway and commission the Village Electrification project.

He also said the budget had planned to raise significant amount of revenue not by raising taxes but by effecting reforms in the revenue administration. Dr Bhattarai said foreign donors were willing to provide aid to Nepal.

The government expects to receive foreign aid and loan worth Rs 65 billion this year.

Finance secretary Rameshwor Khanal also said the government was committed to implementing the budget at any cost. “Donors will provide us Rs 100 billion soon and Rs 200 billion more has been committed. We would increase the internal revenue collection to implement the budget,” Khanal said. He added that the government had an appropriate mechanism in place to implement the budget, he said at a programme.

President of the Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industry Surendra Bir Malakar accused the government of coming up with a policy to control the private sector and threatened to stage protests against the policy.

NC leader Dr Narayan Khadka, said the budget could overshadow the constitution-making process. Khadka claimed that the budget intended to serve Maoist cadres. This budget cannot be implemented, he said, claiming that it will create problems for the Finance Minister’s successor.

Economist Dr Biswombhar Pyakurel said the budget was ambitious. He slammed the government for providing a large sum of money, ranging from Rs 1.5 million to Rs 3 million, to VDCs, saying that it may promote corruption at the local level.