Sunday, June 9, 2013

Budget demand crosses Rs 750 billion

Though, National Planning Commission (NPC) has given a ceiling of Rs 510 billion for the budget of the next fiscal year, the total budget demand from various ministries have crossed Rs 750 billion.
However, the government is mulling to phase out dead projects as they have not been performing since some years back. "The government will reset the priorities," said finance minister Shankar Koirala, at a pre-budget discussion organised by the Finance Ministry, here today.
The budget will focus on energy; infrastructure including roads, railways, north-south and east west highways, and irrigation projects; commercialisation of agriculture, tourism and export promotion that will generate employment, apart from good governance and improved service delivery, he briefed the secretaries from various ministries.
However, presenting their shopping list, the secretaries suggested better monitoring mechanism for the output oriented budget implementation.
"The monitoring needs to be strengthened with focus on reducing non-budgetary expenses," they said, asking to make ministries more responsible for project completion.
Though, Finance Ministry had asked the secretaries to propose one innovative programme each from their respective ministries, some of the secretaries only presented their shopping list, while others came up with their progress report.
National Planning Commission vice chair Rabindra Kumar Shakya, on the occasion, suggested the secretaries to select and prioritise programmes based on their return. "Though, we also need programmes that give return in long term, we have to concentrate currently on programmes that directly gives return in short term," he said, adding that public investment has to be increased to propel growth. "Inability to spend will squeeze growth rate."
The economy is projected to grow at 3.56 per cent in the current fiscal year due to government's inability to invest — also because of delayed budget — on development works that could have not only created employment but also fuel economic growth.
But the government has been planning to bring the budget for the next fiscal year in time to push the economic growth rate to six per cent.
On the occasion, finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi, asked the secretaries not to increase recurrent expenses rather increase capital expenses under their respective ministries to boost the economic growth.
Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Civil Aviation and Tourism Sushil Ghimire, asked the finance minister to support the ministry's tourism promotion plan as it is also one of the priority of the budget.
Likewise, Ministry of Irrigation asked Koirala to help it construct multi-purpose irrigation projects. "Rani Jamara Kularia Irrigation project can also generate 3.5 MW electricity, whereas Bheri Babia would help generate 48 MW," according to the ministry that has planned some three new irrigation projects to implement for better irrigation that would help boost agriculture produce. According to a study, irrigation can contribute 28 per cent to 33 per cent to agriculture output.

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