The UCPN-Maoist that is leading the caretaker government at present is not serious about improving the economy and providing a livelihood to the common people, for whom they claim to be doing politics and waged an armed struggle for a decade before coming to the peace process in 2006.
After the Nepali Congress (NC) unanimously chose Sushil Koirala this morning as its prime ministerial candidate, the UCPN-Maoist reacted with four conditions to support him but none of the four points speak of a full-fledged budget that the incumbent government was hell bent on bringing three weeks back and which failed due to pressure from opposition parties.
The caretaker prime minister and finance minister had both tried hard to bring a full-fledged budget at the last moment, claiming it was necessary to save the economy. But they brought an interim public expenditure arrangement on November 17, blaming the opposition for blocking the budget.
The UCPN-Maoist was never serious about economic development, according to former chief secretary Dr Bimal Koirala. "The caretaker prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had tried to use a full-fledged budget as a tool to prolong his stay in the government," he said, adding that development and economic growth were only their propaganda agendas.
The country was faring well when they started the armed struggle in 1998. In a decade of conflict, the country witnessed a sluggish economic growth. In the last one decade, the country has witnessed an average growth rate of around three per cent.
The budget — that could have brought some economic movement — has been linked to politics, pushing the economy to the back seat since the Constituent Assembly elections in 2008.
"The private sector has become a scapegoat and people are being fooled by the incumbent government," said former secretary Dr Bhola Chalise.
"Dr Bhattarai has brought a couple of programmes on his own, but they could neither be implemented nor will they have any economic or development impact on society," he said, adding that the premier has miserably failed in 'walking the talk' as his intention is not economic development of the country. "Economic development was never UCPN-Maoist issue."
Before November 17, Bhattarai was claiming that a country cannot remain budget less as it will not only lose credibility but also hurt the economy, but after November 17, he is busy with the political musical chair, Koirala blamed.
The sooner the political parties forge consensus and form a new government with a mandate to bring a full-fledged budget, the better it will be for the country. Otherwise it will invite economic crisis due to a disbalance in public income — revenue mobilisation — and expenditure system.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on the authorities to act expeditiously to pass a full-year budget for the current fiscal year 2012-13, and to strengthen public financial management to ensure full execution of the capital budget.
According to the Finance Ministry, the government has been able to spend only Rs 66 billion — that is 41 per cent of the total capital expenditure of Rs 161 billion — under development budget that could have generated employment and propelled economic growth.
The IMF has also projected the economy to contract to 3.8 per cent in the current fiscal year due to prolonged political transition from last fiscal year's 4.6 per cent.If the trend continues, the informal economy will also expand shadowing the formal economy, which will bring another economic crisis in the country hitting the public hard and making some 'fly-by-night traders richer'.