Former finance ministers, today, provided the government a suggestion to focus on implementation rather than on growth in the budget for next fiscal year 2013-14.
Advising the incumbent finance minister Shankar Koirala and Finance Ministry officials on the budget, they said that respective ministries should make their own budget to effectively implement the fiscal policy.
"Trade deficit has been ballooning due to increasing imports and decreasing exports," they said, adding that import substitution has also become a pipedream. "The trend of capital expenditure has also been discouraging of late."
Former finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, on the occasion, said that good governance is a key hurdle rather than investment. "There is no problem of investment," he added.
Since the present government has been appointed to primarily hold elections, it is the right time to scrap unnecessary projects and programmes, Mahat suggested, adding that the government's priority areas like energy, infrastructure and irrigation should come with concrete programmes in the budget.
He also advised the government to expand the tax net. "The government should also encourage more people to come under the tax net by offering some benefits."
The private sector has been investing massively in tourism, the Nepali Congress leader said, asking the government to also invest in the sector. "The government can start by constructing an international cricket ground in Kathmandu."
Likewise, another former finance minister Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani, suggested to make use of the budget. "Only allocating the budget is not enough, output rather is the key," he said, asking the government to scrutinise the budget spent on education as the recent SLC examination has shown poor results despite huge investment in the education sector.
"The budget should be a consensus document of all political parties," suggested former finance minister Mahesh Acharya, on the occasion.
"Infrastructure should link industry, agriculture and tourism," he said, adding that capital expenditure should be focused and directed for its optimum use and output.
Similarly, former finance ministers Madhukar SJB Rana, Surendra Pandey and Dr Roop Jyoti asked the government to encourage the private sector through the fiscal policy. "The private sector should be encouraged and monitored to achieve economic growth," they said, adding that commercialisation of agriculture is the only option to high labour cost.
Finance minister Koirala, on the occasion, said that the government will bring a consensus fiscal policy — with common development agendas, and investment-friendly environment focusing on good governance — that will help propel economic growth and the elected government will be handed over a strong economy as a legacy.
"The budget will concentrate on projects of national pride, energy, infrastructure, commercialisation of agriculture and good governance," he briefed the former finance ministers.