KATHMANDU, June 6: The government has clarified that budget for the coming fiscal year 2019/20 has been allocated in order to fulfill the goal of socialism enshrined in the constitution.
Responding to queries raised by lawmakers in today’s meeting of the House of Representatives (HoR), Minister for Finance, Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, said that the budget has addressed the norms and values guaranteed by the constitution and accepted that weakness could be seen on some issues as activities of fiscal federalism implementation were underway.
He said allocating budget worth Rs 800 billion in projects of national reconstruction and national pride was a mandatory responsibility and added that this responsibility has been adopted in the budget.
The issues of the marginalized communities were being started to be addressed since 2051 BS, and the budget for the coming fiscal year has also addressed these sectors, which were left out in the budget for some years, said the Finance Minister, adding, “I have tried to address marginalized communities in the budget for the next fiscal year.”
The government led by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Adhikari had presented the ‘nine sa’ program in the policy and program and budget to address the marginalized community.
Saying unnecessary discussion has been taking place on the issue of senior citizen security allowance, Finance Minister Khatiwada said that arrangement of senior citizen security allowance has been made taking into consideration the average life span of Nepali.
He said, “Grandfathers and grandmothers have bought pencils and copies to their grandchildren. They have been spending their allowances for medical treatment when suffering from different health problems. Is this wrong? The senior citizens are doing the activities that the state has to do. Is that bad?"
Stating the main challenge for the state was urban management, the Finance Minister made it clear that the 'Let Us Build Our Village Ourselves' program has been included in the budget with the realization that the village also was the basis of our modern life.
As he said, special attention should be given to increasing the capital expenditure and since problems have been faced in the infrastructure development also because of locals' obstructions and the construction entrepreneurs not carrying out their works, it would be an achievement if more than 90 per cent of the development budget could be spent. He stressed that the government was working to increase the development expenditure to the maximum amount and this problem would be addressed to a large extent after some years.
He also expressed the government's commitment to bring into operation and complete the projects that have already been started.
Steel poles to be installed
Finance Minister Khatiwada said that the wooden poles would be replaced by steel poles and this program has been addressed in the budget.
He argued that the economic growth rate of 8.5 per cent projected in the coming fiscal year was practical and it would be achieved due to the expenditure to be made by the centre, state and local levels. The Finance Minister expressed the belief that the speeding up of the development of big physical infrastructures would also have a positive impact on the labor market as well.
He was of the view that the trade deficit could be decreased through export of services as the Visit Nepal Year 2020 is pursued. The government has declared 2020 as the Visit Nepal Year with the goal of bringing in two million tourists in that year.
Finance Minister said electricity would not have to be imported from the next fiscal year and this would contribute to reducing the trade deficit. But he made it clear that the trade deficit would not be balanced in the next fiscal year. One thousand megawatts power would be added in the national grid in the next fiscal year which would greatly contribute to reduction in import from India.
Stating that Nepal has the most easy situation for taking loans in South Asia, he said the government would not go for taking loans in unproductive sectors. Rather, it would take loans to the extent the GDP would support. He added that the government has set its programs in a way to controlling the price hike.
Finance Minister Khatiwada said the government has a plan of providing work to the domestic laborers and that the status of unemployment and the unemployed would be known only by studying the labor market structure.
"The budget for the next fiscal year has made many people happy and only a few unhappy. The budget of the fiscal year after the next fiscal year would make everyone happy," he added.