Keshav Pradhan aka COMRADE BISHWASH, a party worker of CPN (Maoist) listens to the live bradcast of the budget speech at Maoists Dialogue Secretariat at Baneshwar on Wednesday. Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat presented Rs. 143.91 billion for the annual budget for the fiscal year 2006/07 in the parliament in four years after the House was reinstated in April. In previous years, in the absence of a people’s representative body, various governments including the royal cabinet had announced the annual budget through ordinances. . Pic by Bikas Rauniar via Kantipur
Total Budget: Rs 143.91 billion. (Rs 83.76 billion for regular expenditure, Rs 44.97 billion for capital investment and Rs 15.168 for payment of principal amounts of loans.)
Budget aims to raise Rs 85.37 billion from internal revenue, Rs 23.72 billion from foreign grants and Rs 16.90 billion from foreign loans. The deficit budget for the year 2006/07 stands at Rs 22.451 billion.
The government has also increased the annual budget granted to VDCs from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 1 million.
The Talk of CA
Rs. 1.25 billion to conduct the constituent assembly elections, scheduled to be held by mid-April next year.
Addressing the House, Minister Mahat said that the dialogue between government of Nepal and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) has commenced to end all forms of conflict prevalent in the country. “The need of the hour is to make institutional arrangement for constitution, policy and structure through national consensus so that Nepali peoples’ rights are never compromised. Therefore, the present government, in accordance with the House of Representatives’ historic Declaration and the consensus reached with Nepal Communist Party (Maoist), is fully determined to expedite the process of formulating interim constitution, managing weapons and forming interim government through the election of Constituent Assembly in an atmosphere free of violence and fear.”
Palace expenditure slashed by 45 pc
In the current fiscal year (2005/06), a total of Rs. 749.1 million was released to the Royal Palace. Of this amount, Rs.405 million was initially allocated in the different headings of the budget and additional Rs. 344.1 million was released during the year. A total of Rs. 219.7 million has been allocated to the Royal Palace for the next fiscal year (2006/07).
This allocation is lower by 70.7 per cent of the total expenditure and lower by 45.8 per cent of the initial allocation.
*Nearly Rs. 8 billion for road construction
* Rs.3.96 billion for agricultural development
*Rs. 100 million for women empowerment programmes
* Rs. 920 million for judicial administration
*Monthly allowances for elderly and helpless people increased from Rs. 175 to Rs. 200; widows increased from Rs. 125 to Rs. 150 and for women widowed due to conflict from Rs 125 to Rs 200
*10% dearness allowance to civil servants
*Rs. 1.1 billion for the reconstruction of the destroyed physical structures in the conflict and assistance to the families of those killed in the conflict
*Rs. 1.25 billion allocated to the Poverty Alleviation Fund to implement 667 income generating programmes, 379 community infrastructure development programmes, and 1,714 creative programmes in 1200 VDCs
*Rs 4 billion for expansion of irrigation facility and for control of water-induced disasters
*Rs 1.76 billion for programmes under rural electrification scheme
*VAT exemption for machinery, tools and construction materials used for micro hydropower projects and small hydropower projects up to 3 MW capacity
*Policy on bio-protection to be issued by mid-April 2007
*Restriction imposed on women willing to go for foreign employment as household workers lifted
This budget news report was originally prepared by reporters at eKantipur.
Maoists unhappy over budget presentation
Maoist leader Dev Gurung, who is also a member of the Maoist talks team, told eKantipur that his party would not accept the budget as it was being announced without any consultation with the rebel party.
“This budget is being presented without any consultation with us. There is no question of we agreeing with such a budget,” said Gurung, adding, “The budget presentation violates the eight-point SPA-Maoist agreement.”
Claiming that an interim government including the Maoists should have announced the budget, Gurung said it would be difficult to implement the budget programmes as it was being brought without political settlement. “You first need to settle the political issues to effectively implement the programmes mentioned in the budget,” he said.
Gurung also said that he did not expect the budget to be pro-people and as per the aspirations of the April movement. “I don’t think the budget will bring about any structural transformation. There may be some increase or reduction in certain things but, in essence, the budget is most likely to give continuity to the same old traditions.”
“They are saying this budget will have the palace expenditure reduced and the king’s income taxed but I don’t think this will be effectively implemented,” said Gurung, “Taxing the king’s income is not a big deal. The government should be able to nationalise late Birendra’s property.”
He also said budget presentation was “a side issue” in the present situation. “Programmes and policies, budget- these are side issues. If the government continues to engage in side issues ignoring the main political issue, it may ultimately affect the dialogue process,” he said.