Amidst protest and obstructions from the main opposition CPN (UML) party, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma tabled a bill to replace the ordinance budget brought by the erstwhile government, at the House of Representatives this afternoon.

The Replacement Bill has reduced the size of the budget for the current fiscal 2021-22 by nearly Rs 15 billion to Rs 1.632 trillion. This includes recurrent expenditure of Rs 677.99 billion, capital expenditure of Rs 378.10 billion, and Rs 189.44 billion for fiscal management.

Similarly, Rs 387.30 billion has been allocated for fiscal transfers to the provincial and local levels. Of this amount, Rs 325.76 billion has been earmarked as equalisation grant and Rs 61.55 billion as conditional grant.

The ordinance budget announced by former finance minister Bishnu Paudel in May had amounted to Rs 1.647 trillion - Rs 678.61 billion allocated for recurrent expenditure, Rs 374.26 billion for capital expenditure, and Rs 207.97 billion for fiscal management.

Paudel had announced that Rs 386.71 billion would be transferred to the provincial and local governments, with Rs 325.74 billion as equalisation grant, and 60.97 billion as conditional grant.

The revenue collection target has been set at Rs 1,050.82 billion and the government plans to seek foreign grants to the tune of Rs 59.92 billion.

Finance Minister Sharma said Rs 5 billion in immediate savings by slashing at least 10 per cent of allocations for transport, staff trainings, and awareness programmes would be utilised for procuring vaccines against the coronavirus. He said Nepal had already received 133.59 million vaccines and had vaccinated around 17 per cent of the population.

He said the government was in the process of procuring 300 million additional vaccines.

Acknowledging the severe impact of the COVID-19 on the tourism sector, the Replacement Bill has also mentioned concessional schemes to revive the industry, including promotional programmes.

Announcing special discount on income tax for airline companies, Sharma said a museum would be set up to promote Nepal's religions, cultures, and traditions.

Meanwhile, retaining the increase in social security allowances announced in the ordinance budget, the Replacement Bill has introduced two new provisions - a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 for the families of martyrs killed during political movements, and a monthly allowance of Rs 5,000 for the patients of cancer and kidney diseases and those paralysed due to spinal cord injury.

In a bid to provide some relief to people living in abject poverty, the government has announced a one-time grant of Rs 10,000 to five lakh poor households that have lost their source of income due to the COVID pandemic. "The grant amount will be transferred to local bodies by mid-October," Sharma said.

The government also announced that 10 locations would be selected within Kathmandu valley to provide meals to the poor in coordination with social organisations. Sharma assured that the Melamchi Water Supply Project, which had suffered damages due to floods and landslides, would be repaired so as to supply water to valley residents by mid-April.