NC, UML bury the hatchet


Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat on Thursday apologised to CPN-UML during a meeting of Legislature-Parliament for not honouring late communist leaders Madan Bhandari and Pushpa Lal Shrestha and made commitment to address the coalition partner’s concerns in the fiscal budget.

CPN-UML was miffed at the Nepali Congress for ignoring its concerns in the budgetary programmes presented in the House yesterday and had threatened to vote against the budget.

On Thursday’s House meeting began more than five hours late at 4:17pm, as the two ruling coalition partners were engaged in talks throughout the day to resolve disputes. UML agreed to support the budget after NC leaders and Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat promised to address its concerns.

Mahat apologised in the House for missing the names of UML leaders Madan Bhandari and Pushpa Lal Shrestha in the budget speech. He said national stadium to be built in Jhapa would be named Madan Bhandari Stadium, while mid-hill highway would be named Pushpa Lal Highway.

“Madan Bhandari gave a turning point to Nepal’s communist movement and we all have high respect for him,” Mahat said, adding that the government would proceed with the proposed bill to set up a university in late Bhandari’s name.

Mahat said budget for each VDC would be allocated under the name of Gramin Swabalamban, Afno Gaun Afai Banaun Programme. The UML had demanded to mention only “Afno Gaun Afai Banaun Programme”, which was introduced by first UML-led government. NC-led government, later, changed it to Gramin Swabalamban Programme.

Mahat, however, refuted the allegation that he didn’t consult coalition partner UML before bringing the budget. “I held consultations with leaders of  parties at different levels. We could not hold sufficient discussions due to time constraint and our engagement in international conferences and other national events,” Mahat said.

The government has allocated Rs 50 billion for constructing private houses damaged during earthquake and has begun other preparatory works for the same, he said, adding, “The budget for it could be increased if needed.”

Meanwhile, Unified CPN-Maoist Chief Whip Girirajmani Pokharel said, “We have joined hands with the ruling parties following the 16-point deal of June 8. Our concerns were ignored in the budget. We are supporting the government to pass the Vote on Accounts Bill, thinking that we should not obstruct the ongoing constitution drafting process,” Pokharel said, addressing on Thursday’s House meeting