Nepal | July 14, 2020

Supplementary budget ‘gets PM Oli’s green light’

Rewati Sapkota
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Kathmandu, August 22

Just a month after the implementation of the budget for this fiscal, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has ‘given his nod’ to a supplementary budget to address dissatisfaction among the public.

The supplementary budget is likely to be announced after Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal wraps up his India and China visit. Dahal is visiting India from September 7 to 12 and China from September 17 for a week.

Although the PM had so far resisted pressure from leaders and lawmakers representing the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), he ‘finally agreed’ to the idea of a supplementary budget following consultations with senior party leaders who were of the view that the party had been losing public support because of the budget.

“The top leadership is of the view that other development programmes cannot be executed without a supplementary budget,” said a senior NCP leader.

“Traditionally, a finance minister does not announce supplementary budget overruling the budget that s/he had previously announced except in an emergency situation,” the leader told THT.

Khatiwada is under immense pressure from NCP leaders and lawmakers to come up with a budget that accommodates their programmes.

NCP leaders plan to intensify talks on the supplementary budget after the conclusion of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation summit being held in Kathmandu on August 30 and 31, and completion of the party’s unification process at provincial and local levels after its standing committee meeting on September 4 and 5.

The standing committee will authorise party committees at the central, provincial and local levels to monitor and guide respective government tiers. The NCP plans to hold another standing committee meeting to review the performance of the federal government. “These meetings will also discuss the supplementary budget and ministers’ performances,” the leader added.

As per preliminary talks, the supplementary budget will focus on national pride projects and senior citizens welfare allowance.

Oli’s Chief Adviser Bishnu Rimal, however, expressed ignorance about the supplementary budget plan. “I am not aware of any such development. I don’t know if any discussion has been held among some leaders,” he said.

Finance Minister Khatiwada presented a federal budget of Rs 1,315 billion for the fiscal 2018-19 in the joint session of the House of Representatives and National Assembly on May 29, with a focus on transforming the production sector and development of physical infrastructure.

Controversial budgetary provisions

  • The budget gave continuity to constituency development programme and allocated Rs 40 million to each of the 275 constituencies despite public criticism
  • The budget announced health insurance of Rs 1 lakh for senior citizens and raised the life insurance amount of civil servants to Rs 2 lakh instead of raising social security amount and salaries, making the government bear 50 per cent of the premium of insurance of civil servants

A version of this article appears in print on August 23, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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