EDITORIAL: Now, perform

Government after government went on increasing the size of the budget mainly to give the public the impression that it was more committed to national development

For the first time (except on one occasion, in 2000), Parliament on Saturday passed the Appropriations Bill, i.e. the Budget Estimates for the fiscal year 2016/17 well in time.

As a result, the government has received the authority to spend about two months earlier than in the past fiscal years.

The last week of the last month of the fiscal year used to be the time when the yearly estimates for the National Budget used to be presented in Parliament by the finance minister.

This was because on Jestha 15 (or May 28) the Budget for the fiscal 2016/17 was presented, about one and a half months earlier than usual. For decades it would take about two months for the appropriations bill to be discussed and finally passed by Parliament, with the Dashain and Tihar festivals, with the longest public holidays, just at hand.

Then the bidding and tender processes of the various construction contracts would normally start after the resumption of government office after the long holidays, and by the time all such formalities would be completed, more than six months would have already passed.

This left too little time for all the budget outlay to be spent within the fiscal year.

Now, it is hoped that there will be a minimum of the hassles and delays in budget implementation, and that it will go a long way in ensuring that uncompleted construction work and unspent budgeted amounts, and the end-of-the-year flurry of construction activities just to avoid budget freeze will end.

The need for early presentation and passage of the National Budget had been realized by political leaders ever since the Panchayat days, but only now the need has been fulfilled, with the Constitution itself fixing Jestha 15 as the day for the presentation of the National Budget.

From now on, therefore, there will be few valid excuses for failing to implement the development work on time.

Delay in budget presentation and its passage had always been cited as major reasons for all these shortcomings of the government. Every year, for decades, no government has been able to spend all or almost all of the development outlays.

Despite this fact, government after government went on increasing the size of the budget mainly to give the public the impression that it was more committed to national development.

Now, all the government agencies, including the National Planning Commission, should act with a sense of urgency to clear all the remaining hurdles to budget implementation. For example, bidding and tender processes must be speeded up and procurement procedures need to be simplified.

All the offices responsible for the completion of development projects should be manned by the best people available. These and other aspects have also an important impact on the execution of development work.

The finance ministry and the other ministries can do a lot to forward their spending plans and do other related work without delay. The various government agencies will have to take responsibility for failing to spend the budget and meet the targets on time.

Therefore, the government and its agencies will have to be decided, from now onward, on the basis of their performance, not on their promises, excuses and buck-passing.

Female infanticide

Due to a preference of a male child female infanticide has been reported worldwide, including Nepal.

It is estimated that as many as 1.5 million female fetuses are aborted every year. With the invention of ultrasonography for the determination of the sex of the fetuses in the 1980s sex selective abortion of female fetuses have now become commonplace.

This has serious demographic implications and the number of men have increased compared to women. In Nepal it is now legal to carry out abortion in the initial stages of pregnancy.

It is indeed tragic that rampant abortion of female fetus are taking place after their sexes have been determined by performing ultra sound.

According to the law, the doctors are not permitted to reveal the sex of the fetus to the parents.

However, many doctors do not play according to the rules and they divulge the sex of the fetus after being cajoled by their patients.

Pre-natal sex determination is an evil practice when modern technology is used making it possible to determine the sex of the fetus so that the female ones are aborted.