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Nepal Blogs provides a roundup of reactions of Nepali Twitter users on Nepal’s budget for fiscal year 2011/12 which was presented in the parliament today.
Why Budget matters: Budget policy and Nepali politics
A Sweet and Sour Budget
By Rajat Sharma
The Budget for the fiscal year 2011-2012 presented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister can be said as sweet in terms of slogan sour in terms of allocation. Some segments of the business community, had high hopes when the Comprehensive Peace Accord(CPA) was signed few years back. The euphoria disappeared fast. The coalition regime neither had the will nor the capability to implement the promises made in the subsequent budgets. Moreover, the budgt also did not come in time. Most of the time after the CPA budget came in the form of Ordinance . The government failed to present the budget in the parliament on 14th July, 2010 as the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) refused to budge on its demands. The Front’s demands include allocation of budget for Hulaki Highway (Postal Highway), East-West railway, Chure hills protection programme and establishment of schools in the name of martyrs of Madhesi movement. Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari had already arrived in the parliament to present an outlay of Rs 385 billion budget for the fiscal year 2011/12.
Sour from people’s perspective: there is no quid progeno for the massive mandate the political parties in power or the rulers claim the poor people gave them. It is business friendly because tax rates have been reduced. Whatever fragile instruments and were available for catching tax – evaders. Black marketers and carpet beggars have been destroyed. Revenue collection has been left to the mercy of hardened tax evaders.
It is unfriendly to people because further holes have been created in the revenue system through new exemptions.
It is unfriendly because people’s right of spending out of growing nominal GNP on their welfare, their social development and their poverty alleviation has been curtailed.
With top priority given to education, infrastructure and the agriculture sector, the budget for the next fiscal year 2011-12 is 25.67 percent bigger in size than the previous one.
Some opined that there is a reflection of the current political equation can be seen in the budget as major pet projects of the two coalition partners—CPN (UML) and UCPN (Maoist)—have been included. The Maoists have been demanding programmes like youth self employment, promotion of low priced shops, a Muslim Commission and cooperatives in villages, employment in each household, “Afno Gaun Afai Banaun (Let’s make our villages ourselves), a popular programme of the CPN (UML) will be given continuity.
With more money being pumped into the social sector, subsidies and grant, the budget looks populist. There has been a heavy rise in the social security budget—Rs 26.64 billion from the Rs 22.67 billion in the current fiscal year. “The grant to local bodies and social services has also increased to Rs 113.68 billion as compared to Rs 91.80 billion this year. The social service grant has gone up to Rs 82.28 billion from Rs 68.35 billion earlier. Subsidy has also gone up to Rs 7.1 billion from the Rs 5.44 billion earlier.
The budget announced a number of social programmes. It has increased the amount of scholarship for higher education for Kamalaris, extended the one-family-one-employment programme from the Karnali region to Jajarkot, Achham, Bajhang and Bajura.
The agriculture sector is getting a whopping Rs 29.73 billion as compared to 22.76 billion this year. The government will start a commercialization programme for agriculture under the slogan of ‘Let’s increase production, be self-reliant,’ to make the country self-reliant on food and other agriculture products within the next three years. Agriculture related programmes will get 15 percent of the grant that will go to village development committees. The budget also seeks to make the country self-reliant on meat within the next three years.
In a move that would provide relief to farmers, subsidies on fertilizers has been increased to Rs 3 billion. The government has also promised subsidy for purchasing improved seeds. The government will exempt cooperatives that import agriculture processing equipment from customs duty.
Workers in urban centers will also get concession in customs duty if they import public vehicles under the transportation cooperatives
Budget of any country whosoever may be in the power is a paradigm not simply of economic development, but of a conjoint and interlinked process of social political, ideological and economic development, perceived in terms of progress towards the goal of material abundance in a least developed country like Nepal. As such, we are traveling through difficult and uncharted terrain, where no action is without risk, and success will not always be immediate. We need patience, perseverance and national cohesion if we are to succeed.
Privatization has come to a grinding halt. Share prices of public companies have fallen drastically. The Left oriented Budgets have always increased national debt. The Present budget has estimated to raise the revenue of 246 billion rupees, which is 30 billion more than the target envisaged in the last year. The budget also estimates to have the foreign assistance to the tune of 103 billion rupees consisting of 75 billion as grant and 28 billion as loan. External loans promised by the Budget are going to be impossible to rise’
It gives us no pleasure to throw back at the former finance minister and the recent Finance Minister’s his pious promises . The Finance Ministers have failed to : improve the lives of common man; reduce dependence on others; generate health, education and employment facilities, modernize our industrial sector; create stability and confidence; promote growth; eradicate corruption and mismanagement; improve balance of payment Position; allow NEPSE and or the stock exchanges index to increase; encourage foreign investment; increase revenues; control government expenditure; take stern action against defaulters; ensure better law and order; promote and expand exports ;create new job opportunities; provide subsidy to farmers; reduce tax rates.
Never before in the history of Nepal has so much damage been done to the national economy in such a short time. It is all very well to shed crocodile tears but sacrifices, like charity, begin at home. May we ask how much income tax the incumbent Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the member of the Constituent Assembly paid during 2009-2010?
Financial market, one of the leading shares consisting of about more than 92 percent on the Nepal Stock Exchange were arrested so that share prices should fall and be picked up by the economic vultures in the country.
The dramatic decline led to a slump in the Nepal Stock Exchange, which slashed down below the 300 point index.
Some people in Nepal and others had also warned last year that there are hard times ahead. Only a national government can deliver the goods. It is quite evident from the track record of this myopic, selfish, brutish and vindictive regime that it has neither the will nor the vision to respond to the challenge that lies ahead.
Now that aid has dried up. We can no longer afford the old lifestyle. People are angry because hospitals do not have medicines, schools do not have books, streets are broken, eighteen hours of load shedding and water is not available.
We tell the people that this is due to the extravagant lifestyle of the Rulers. Or that it is due to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. We don’t tell them aid has stopped. We should have the courage to say: That we borrowed too much in 50 years believing there was no tomorrow. As long as we borrow for Motorways and refuse to spend on water logging and salinity, on Health, Education and Population, we cannot prosper. For Nepal , this is jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
That someone who has defaulted on billions of rupees to public sector banks is a failure. A failure as an individual and a failure as a Businessman. A failed Businessman lacks the ability to create a fair and just business atmosphere for the business and trading communities to compete and thrive. A man who steals taxes and cannot show the source of funding for his known assets and presides over an industrial complex of ill-gotten wealth, is a poor example for the youth of our country to follow. Here is a tortured soul driven by fear.
A man who has brought disgrace to our country, weakened it, divided it, bankrupted it, demoralized it, destroyed its institutions and given birth to terms such as “Briefcase Judges”, “Crore Commanders”, “Corrupt Politicians”.
The budget seeks to prepare a national rural electrification master plan to provide electricity to all households within the next five years. A big hydropower project will be developed with involvement of all interested Nepali nationals.
For the private sector, the government will declare the industrial sector as peace zone while proper security will be provided. The budget seeks to make Nepal an excellent tourism destination in the world within the next 15 years, according to tourism ministry sources.
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