NC finds fault in Maoists’ ‘partisan’ budget

Kathmandu, October 19:

Discussions on the appropriation bill for the fiscal year 2008/09 began in the parliament today with the NC saying that the budget will benefit Maoist cadres only.

In the discussions, which continued after a hiatus of about 18 days due to Dashain, Constituent Assembly (CA) members dwelt on the budget allocation for the Finance and Home Ministries.

NC CA member Dr Minendra Rijal came down heavily on Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai for allocating huge sums on social security and welfare programmes without purposing any mechanism for their execution.

“The appropriations on social security allowance, cooperatives, development works based on people’s mobilisation and maintenance of law and order with people’s participation prove that the government is heading towards a totalitarian regime,” he said.

“All these programmes are aimed at giving largesse to Maoist cadres from the state coffers,” said he. The CA member maintained that the general public will not benefit from these programmes unless they give in to the Maoist diktat.

He said these programmes will make the Maoist cadres “more equal than the others”. Rijal accused the Maoist leaders of applying double standards at home and abroad. “They talk about People’s Republic and discard the parliamentary practice at home, but repeat the rhetoric of private investment, liberal economy and privatisation when they go abroad,” said Dr Rijal.

Rijal said the Finance Minister might have got a clear message during his participation at the World Bank and IMF meetings that international donation and loan would not increase from the existing Rs 23 billion to a whopping Rs 47 billion. “How can you increase income tax from Rs 19 billion to Rs 27 billion without having a supportive mechanism to this effect?” he questioned.

“The Nepali Congress will not support the budget that aims to establish state-dependent economy by undermining fiscal discipline.”

Rijal accused the government of attempting to bring an end to the parliamentary session at the earliest without giving enough time for the CA members to discuss the budget allocation.

Pradip Gyawali, a CA member from the ruling CPN-UML, drew the Finance Minister’s attention towards reduction in allocation for the Home Ministry. “Government’s policies and programme have given priority to restore law and order and control social crimes, but the budget for the ministry is not sufficient enough to meet growing security challenges,” Gyawali said.

He said budget allocation of Rs 12 billion for the Home Ministry was meagre. The UML CA member urged the Finance Minister to clarify why the latter mentioned nothing about restoration of police stations destroyed during the conflict. The law and order situation in the Tarai and eastern hills has deteriorated in the absence of required police strength, he added.

“How can you restore law and order and curb social crimes without sizable police presence across the country?” he questioned. Gyawali accused the Maoists of not allowing the police force to work independently. Efforts should be made to ward off disturbances on national highways, he said.