TOPICS: The budget should be overhauled

NoBudget is not merely a statement of income and expenditure, but rather a collection of policies to be implemented for the upcoming fiscal year. Thus, the budget reflects the state’s priorities or it outlines the nation’s goals. Every annual budget is in line with the state’s long haul objectives. The budget mobilises the resources and vouches for adequate utilisation. Needless to say, development is a far cry should the priority and the policy of the budget fail to formulate the national target.

Does the budget presented this year by the CPN (Maoist) reflect the existing problems of the nation? If the present budget is viewed meticulously, the document entails some unattainable slogans. The amount of the budget is the taxpayer’s hard earned money and the parliamentarians should reassure that every penny would be spent justifiably. How justifiable is an allocation of 600 crores under miscellaneous expenses of the Ministry of Finance. Is not an allocation of “youth fund” for the Ministry of Finance despite the existence of a Ministry for Youth an anachronism?

The amounts to be spent on ad-hocism are ubiquitous. For instance, the contingency amount for the development program is augmented from 18 to 117 crores. The amount to be spent for natural calamities has been raised from 42 to 200 crores and 175 crores have been allocated for labour oriented development programs. Likewise, 128 crores have been allocated for rehabilitation and reconstruction, 260 crores for relief and from 504 crores (last year 201 crores) for PLA management. Ironically, no budget has been allocated for the Maoist victims. Yet another example is the provision of 43.33 crores to be distributed to 14 thousand families of Dalits and freed Kamaiyas living in 14 districts of high hills and 150 crores at the rate of one lakh each to be distributed for conflict affected families, the basis for which however has not been clarified.

It reflects a sheer misuse of funds to make an allocatation of 8 billion to the VDCs when there are no elected local bodies and the previous year’s funds have been piling up. The allocation of 400 crores for social security, 298 crores for local infrastructure and livelihood through Poverty Alleviation Fund, 122.5 crores for farmers to overcome food crisis and 40 crores for once failed cooperative programs are examples of the government’s misplaced priorities.

The government also seems poised to render our rich tradition defunct. The Kumari Jatra of this year is an example. While the actual expenditure last year for Kumari Jatra celebrations was 12.94 crores, the government has allocated a mere 3.21 crores this year. This idiocy will inevitably hamper tourism industry as well as the country’s proud identity. Therefore, some parliamentarians from CPN-UML and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF), besides Nepali Congress, have vehemently criticised the budget. An economic as well as political crisis is inevitable should we fail to uphold nation’s goal by overhauling this budget without delay.