Cuts for a cause

The Ministry of Finance’s decision to present the budget for the fiscal year 2006-07 in June with a paradigm shift in terms of vision in keeping with the ground realities as dictated by the Jana Andolan is indeed encouraging. The royal palace expenses and the country’s security apparatus are expected to face substantial cuts. Indications are the royal expenditure is going to be drastically reduced from Rs 750 million to Rs 200 million, whereas the security outlay is going to be slashed by Rs 4 billion — from 18 billion to Rs 14 billion. In addition, the government is planning to save Rs 400 million by reducing the security strength through reduction in yearly recruitment to the tune of over 3,000 security personnel in the army. Another Rs 1.25 billion is being saved through demobilising measures as regards the army. The cancellation of unproductive expenditure like procuring helicopters and other hardwares can save additional millions. The government estimates Rs 1.20 billion will be required to establish the constituent assembly.

Development, unfortunately, is in some sort of a limbo owing to skewed policies and inadequate outlays. The administration should also augment revenue and prune its own unproductive expenditure. It’s not just funds; there is a lot more that needs to be changed to keep pace with the modernising world. The budget in the making can be dubbed as truly ‘visionary’ only when the shift in the government’s allocation is able to help the victims of neglect change their lifestyles for the better. By enforcing fiscal discipline, the powers-that-be will have to demonstrate foresight and channelise the money thus saved in productive enterprises or else the envisaged cuts will have no meaning. Everybody now realises that there is no need for guns, but the people will continue to need jobs, schools, roads — and much more.