Lawmakers who took part in the debate on the government's budgetary principles and priorities in the House of Representatives have urged the government to include robust and comprehensive plan to make Nepal's economy self-reliant and to focus on industrialisation and mechanisation of agriculture.

Addressing the House from the rostrum, former prime minister and Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal leader Baburam Bhattarai said Nepal needed to reach understanding with India to rectify trade imbalances with the southern neighbour.

Nepal needs to address India's concerns to benefit from trade with India.

He flayed Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, who has been proposed to be Nepal's ambassador to China, for saying that he would try to make China a member of SAARC. "China is not a member of this region and such remarks are uncalled for," Bhattarai said.

Bhattarai said the budget should strive to further strengthen federalism and the rate of current allocation of budget should be reversed. He said the federal government should get only 30 per cent of revenue and the remaining 70 per cent budget should go to provincial and local governments.

CPN-UML lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai said the economy was in a shambles, with foreign currency reserve enough to meet needs of import for only seven months. He said the government had not presented any robust plan to revive the economy.

He alleged that the government was encouraging illegal flow of money into Nepal through informal channels.

He claimed that the government took action against Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari for checking illegal inflow of money into Nepal.

Former prime minister and CPN (Unified Socialist) leader Jhalanath Khanal said the last four budgets were brought without keeping in mind the directive principles of the constitution that stipulated Nepal's resolve to build a socialism-oriented but self-reliant economy.

Unless industrilisation and mechanisation of agriculture happen, Nepal's economy cannot be self- reliant, he argued.

He said if Nepal's relations with far off countries soured, it would not impact Nepal much, but if Nepal's relations with its neighbours soured, the country could face a lot of difficulties.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Dila Sangraula Panta said eradication of poverty should be the first priority of the budget.

He said the budget should promote such programmes that could help increase domestic production of agricultural goods so as to make the economy self-reliant.

CPN-Maoist Centre lawmaker Haribol Gajurel said the budget should incorporate plans to discourage import of agricultural products from foreign countries. He said road building projects were being conducted haphazardly, creating difficulties and inconvenience for the public.

The debate on the government's budgetary principles and priorities will continue tomorrow.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 19, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.