Budget lacks vision, claims NC

Growth target contradicts the govt’s white paper that stated the economy was in a shambles

Kathmandu, May 30

The Nepali Congress today stated that the annual budget for 2018-19 presented yesterday lacked  vision, although it was presented in a relatively convenient political situation following the implementation of the constitution after successful elections.

The main opposition also termed the budget ‘populist’, and ‘at the crossroads’ between the open market policy championed by the NC and traditional communist ideology. “That’s why it is vague and confusing and contradicts past statements of the government,” said NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma at a press conference at the party’s central office in Sanepa, Lalitpur.

According to the NC, the budget’s target of eight per cent economic growth for the next fiscal  contradicted the government’s white paper which stated that the economy was in a shambles.

Also, the budget lacks reliable programmes to achieve the ‘ambitious economic growth target’.

The budget also failed to adopt measures to promote the private sector, although it has prioritised employment generation. “This means, it still is guided by conventional thinking that the government is the major source of employment generation,” stated the party. Stating that the budget only raised the tax rate rather than widening the tax net, Sharma said it lacked any vision for achieving the ambitious target of boosting revenue.

The budget did not appropriately focus on education and agriculture sectors, according to the NC. Although the budget has announced doubling agriculture productivity, it has not focused on early completion of important irrigation projects. “All the parties had a common view of boosting investment in education sector to 20 per cent, but it did not happen. It seems the government is not serious about policy and structural reforms in the education sector,” said Sharma.

The NC also expressed serious reservation over the non-inclusion of schemes announced by the previous government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, such as senior citizen allowance for people aged above 65, and Rs 5,000 monthly livelihood allowance for people suffering from kidney ailment, spinal injury or cancer.

Stating that less than one-fourth of the budget had been earmarked for development expenditure, Sharma said it posed a challenge in pursuing the goal of prosperity and raised doubts about successful completion of ongoing development projects.

The NC also pointed out that unless the second international airport in Nijgad and Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track project were completed on time, the plan to attract two million tourists in 2020 could not be realised.

Meanwhile, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba today directed party lawmakers to ‘analytically oppose’ the ‘populist’ provisions in the annual budget in the Parliament.