Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Will new government bring another budget

Nepal has seen many things – that it had never witnessed in its history – in the past one decade. As if it were not enough, the country could see a new budget altogether for the current fiscal year 2016-17 with the formation of a new government.
With the latest political tug-of war, the future of the budget introduced by the Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli-led government has become uncertain, which is eventually going to hit the economy hard. As the incumbent Prime Minister Oli is buying time in Baluwatar, claiming constitutional confusion, the opposition Nepal Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) – a coalition partner till last week – are showing reluctance to pass the budget.
Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi said that the next government may not give continuity to the budget that was presented by the incumbent finance minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel in the parliament on June 28. "Since the remaining budget bills have no relevance as they have not been passed by the end of the last fiscal year, July 16, the new government could bring another budget," he said, claiming that premier Oli is trying to buy time asking the opposition to pass the budget first. "Since the budget has not yet passed, there is enough chance that the new government will bring new budget."
"As the parliament has already passed the Appropriation Bill letting the government spend from the beginning of the current fiscal year, which started on July 16, the remaining bills have no relevance," Nidhi added.
The parliament had endorsed the Appropriation Bill with a majority, authorising the government hand to spend from July 16.
The government has no problem either in mobilising revenue as the Periodic Tax Recovery Act, 1955 has come into effect from June 29. The Act will authorise government to mobilise tax for 6 months till November 30.
Former finance secretary Rameshwor Khanal also said that the government will have no problem in mobilising revenue and spending for six months as the parliament has passed the Periodic Tax Recovery Act, 1955 and the Appropriation Bill.
But he also said that the next government could bring new budget, disowning the one that is in parliament as it has not been passed. "The parliament will ask the next government to either carry on with the current budget or bring the new one," he said, adding that though it has not happened in the history, the next government could disown the budget presented by the incumbent government and bring a new one altogether.
Khanal, however, also said that the opposition should either not have let the government pass the Appropriation Bill or there is no point in obstructing the remaining bills.
Poudel had tabled Appropriation Bill with other bills related to budget including Finance Bill 2016, Bill to Mobilize Internal Loans, and Loan and Guarantee Bill (21st amendment), seeking parliament's approval on July 8. The house passed the Appropriation Bill on the same day but the remaining bills were scheduled to be approved by the parliament on July 13, before the new fiscal year started.
However, with the coalition partner CPN (Maoist centre) withdrawing support to the Oli-led government and registering a no-confidence motion on July 13, the budget approval process has been postponed indefinitely.
Now the political wrangling has made the future of not only the budget but also the economy uncertain as both the government and opposition is making the budget a stepping stone to the power.
The ruling CPN-UML on Sunday has asked the opposition Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) to help pass the budget before discussing the no-confidence motion. But Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) have been asking Oli to resign and pave way for forming new government before passing the budget.
Finance Minister Poudel on June 28 announced a budget of Rs 1,048.90 billion for the current fiscal year. The budget that was brought before the fiscal year started, according to the new constitution, had raised hopes that it will be implemented and that public spending will be increased. However, the latest development has again made the future of the budget and the economy uncertain.

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