Keep aside budget for consolidating federalism: MPs

Kathmandu, May 12

Lawmakers, including former finance ministers, today suggested that the government should set aside budget to consolidate federalism. Commenting on the government’s key principles and priorities in the Appropriation Bill for the fiscal 2019-20 in the House of Representatives, 43 lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties suggested that the government should not scatter budget but allocate it on the basis of priorities, with federalism at the centre.

Former prime minister and finance minister Baburam Bhattarai said the budget for the fiscal year should prioritise Madhes and urban areas.

“The government should invest in those sectors that guarantee return,” he said, adding that he was not against the development of any region of the country.

Bhattarai, who is the federal council chairperson of the newly formed Samajwadi Party-Nepal, criticised Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada harshly by saying that the Principles and Priorities on the Appropriation Bill were perhaps prepared in a state of half-sleep.

He claimed that the way the government was preparing the budget would not lead the country towards development.

Former finance minister Surendra Pandey, representing the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), urged the government to focus on two areas, unemployment and trade deficit while presenting the fiscal budget. “We must focus on particular kinds of high-value goods that Nepal can produce and export to minimise the trade deficit,” he said. He also asked former prime minister Bhattarai to stay focused on the bill’s content rather than making mean comments.

Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, also a former finance minister, representing the main opposition Nepali Congress, observed that the contents of the bill excessively praised the works of the government that had failed to deliver. He also charged the finance minister of coming up with twisted facts and figures. “The finance minister deceived people by presenting wrong information,” he alleged.

Laxman Lal Karna of Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal said though the country’s economy was based on agriculture the government had failed to prioritise it.

Kalyani Khadka of the ruling party said development budget should be allocated keeping in mind the federal structure of the government.“Budget shouldn’t be allocated based on personal interests or affiliation as was the previous trend,” she said.

Rajendra KC of the NC said the upcoming budget was populist and scattered.

“We are importing agricultural products worth around Rs 2 billion. So, we need to focus on quality agro-products to cut the trade deficit through exports,” he said.

Chief Whip of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Dev Gurung requested the government to allocate budget for conflict management programmes.