Friday, October 12, 2012

Economists divided on budget

As political consensus eludes political parties, economists are also divided on the fate of full-fledged budget.
During talks with President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, today, at his office on the budget, senior economists and former bureaucrats were divided in three views.
Some suggested not allowing the caretaker government bring a full-fledged budget as it will be unconstitutional, while others suggested including the budget in a political package and finding a combined solution, and the third view was to allow a full-fledged budget to come. However, the President should keep a hawk's eye vigil on the government's financial indiscipline as it has been unable to spend even one-third development budget due to its inefficiency, they said.
"The caretaker government should be allowed to bring the budget for the remaining eight months," senior economist Prof Dr Bishwambher Pyakuryal said, adding that this government had already brought a 'special budget' for four months of the current fiscal year.
However, the President should first seek explanation from the government on why it has been unable to spend even 'one-third' of the development budget and strictly reprioritise programmes, he suggested the President, also requesting him to seek the progress report of the four-month budget implementation.
Blocking a full-fledged budget will harm the economy, as both the private sector and development partners will lose confidence in the country, said Pyakuryal, adding that the President should also not fuel confrontation with political parties.
The government led by caretaker prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai — due to lack of parliament — had brought a special budget of Rs 161.24 billion through ordinance as an interim public expenditure arrangement, largely focusing on election but not economic expansion for the four months till mid-November.
Caretaker finance minister Barshaman Pun had presented a special budget in July after the Constituent Assembly (CA) that was also acting as the parliament was dissolved on May 27 after its failure to draft the constitution.
However, six months later, political parties are still wrestling over two options –– whether to revive the CA or go for fresh elections.
"In the absence of a full-fledged budget, the country will have to pay the price," said economist Dr Chiranjivi Nepal, who was in the team that included Prof Dr Madan Dahal, Dr Bimal Koirala, Prithvi Raj Ligal, Bhanu Acharya and Dr Dilli Raj Khanal.
Though the private sector has been pushing for a full-fledged budget since the beginning, political parties have been flexing their muscle only on political agenda that has also put the Investment Year plan in the back burner.
The government's inefficiency has also made the Investment Board a cripple, as it has failed to come up with its proposed 'saleable 50 projects' to attract foreign investment in the country.
The government has also failed to curb the spiraling price hike and deliver basic services, though Pun had presented his long wish list including double digit growth rate in the special budget.
Similarly, the caretaker government had also promised to reduce cost of business and bureaucratic hassles to create a tax-friendly environment that would encourage the private sector but it has failed to 'walk the talk' as always.
The private sector has been, from the beginning of the fiscal year, opposed to the one-third budget as it cannot help expand the economy and encourage investment.
However, the caretaker government that had prepared a populist full-fledged budget of around Rs 450 billion, was forced to bring only one-third of last fiscal year's budget as a special budget due to its failure in forging political consensus.
FNCCI-Khanal talks
KATHMANDU: The umbrella organisation of the domestic private sector, on Friday, requested CPN-UML chair Jhalanath Khanal to support a full-fledged budget. During the meeting with Khanal, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry led by its president Suraj Vaidya, also apprised him of the problems the private sector was currently facing, and sought his help in solving them. Khanal told the private sector representatives that his party is for a full-fledged budget and ready to help the private sector solve its problems.


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