Sunday, June 28, 2009

BUDGET BUZZ: Bring a consensus budget

Nepal is passing through a critical period of the peace process and political consensus is the first and foremost need of the country today. This factor needs to be seriously considered while preparing the budget so that it is owned by all parties and get success in implementation.
The Three Year Interim Plan is a consensus document of major political parties of the country. Likewise the Common Minimum Programme of coalition partners of the government. Hence, the budget should be based on mainly these two documents and as set in the TYIP, priority should be accorded to agriculture, tourism. Hydropower and infrastructure. TYIP has adopted a development model of three pillars viz public sector, private sector and cooperative sector. The budget should therefore be able to mobilize all these three sectors.
A safe and investment friendly environment should be created to enhance private sector activities and provisions made to promote and expand cooperatives all over the country in different economic activities. The government should, on one hand, facilitate these sectors and on the other, build public private partnership to develop infrastructure. The government should take the lead in developing the social sector.
The incumbent government is led by CPN-UML. Like the historic and popular budget of 2052-53 presented by the then CPN-UML government, the upcoming budget should be guided by the principle of a welfare state and provide relief measures to downtrodden people and marginalised sections of society. While providing such relief, it would be better if it is linked with economic empowerment and social transformation wherever possible.
Build Own Village Yourself was the most popular programme introduced in the budget of 2052-53 by the UML government. Subsequent governments also continued this programme under different names. However, it is natural to expect that the programme be continued with the original name.
The present government is an interim government. Its main responsibilities are to promulgate a new constitution and complete the peace process. Thus, the budget should focus on projects which are near completion rather than introducing new big projects. Completion of SEZ in Bhairahawa is a case in point.
The Task Force formed by the government has already drafted a new Industrial policy and Foreign Investment policy. The government need to approve them and make necessary budgetary provisions. Similarly, good projects like Investment Board, which was provisioned in the previous budget, should also be continued and implemented. This will help in bringing mega projects.

Dr Pushpa Raj
former member, National Planning Commission (NPC)


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