CMs unhappy with budget

Published On: May 30, 2018 08:12 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Out of the seven chief ministers that Republica approcached for feedback, only four responded. 

Budget did not come as per the spirit of federalism
- Trilochan Bhatta, Chief Minister, Province 7

The budget is not in line with the spirit of federalism. It is not up to my expectation as the first budget of the federal government; it’s rather similar to previous budgets.

The budget should have made clear what works should be carried out by the central, provincial and local governments. Even though a general message has been conveyed about what works the central and provincial ministries should do, it has not been conveyed in the spirit of federalism as it should have been.

Province 7 lagged behind in development in the last few decades. This factor should have been taken into account during the preparation of the budget. No extra budget has been allocated for addressing this factor.

We are finalizing the budget of Province 7 which will be based on the foundations of federalism. It will ensure the optimum utilization of all potential economic sources of the province.

Budget has largely neglected Karnali region
- Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, Chief Minister, Province 6 

The budget is not as per the spirit of federalism. It has largely neglected the Karnali region, one of the most impoverished regions of the country. For us this budget is not satisfactory. We had urged the government to provide special economic package for this region but the government allocated inadequate budget for the development of this region. This years’ budget is lesser than what the government use to allocate in the previous years. 

We had been asking the federal government either to allocate enough resources or rights to us for a long time now. But, the government did not provide either. We can develop this province on our own if the government delegates full rights to us. 

In this province, fifty-two percent of the people are already below the poverty line and we have to work hard to eradicate poverty and backwardness of the region. But the government has not given due priority in allocating development budget. This will leave the relatively backward Karnali always backward from development perspective. 

The budget has prioritized to connect Dolpa, Mugu and Humla with China borers. I think this is the only good decision in the budget. 

Budget is not province-centric 
- Mohamad Lalbabu Raut, Chief Minister, Province 2

Federal system becomes stronger only if you make the provinces stronger. The first budget introduced after the country adapted the federal structure is not province friendly. It seems the federal government cannot prioritize the provinces as necessary. From the view of a CM, I see the budget has not given due priority to the development of province. 

The finance minister has stressed on establishing provincial stadium and health fitness center for the development of sports and health. But the budget is not given due priority to the development as expected.

The government has allocated Rs. 20 billion in accordance to the proportional allocation of budget but it is not adequate. It’s too little.

On one hand, the government is talking about federalism, on the other, it is paralyzing the province. This cannot be taken as the right move. Since, people are expecting the most from the provincial government; the province should be at the centre. I don’t think the government is doing so.

Centralized mindset reflected in budget
- Sherdhan Rai, Chief Minister, Province Number 1

Overall, it is positive, progressive. But it is a reflection of centralized mindset. I feel that the local and federal governments have not received fair distribution of budget. The country has gone federal with an aim to decentralize development and power. So, it was important to carry that spirit in the budget distribution which I could not feel. On the other hand, budget is going to be released only after projects are finalized. But that hinders projects. Center – province connection is new for us. We all are in the learning process. 

Amid this, how the center behaves and how the provincial governments respond to that determines everything. If we are to make provincial set up a success, we need to have solid faith in our ideas and approach. Or else, provincial governments will be weak. The biggest weakness of the budget is it has not handed over projects directly to the provincial government. Provincial governments were not asked to deal with the projects on their own. This has given a space to doubt the attitude of the central government towards the provincial governments. People have expected a lot from local and provincial governments. But the budget allocation has not made us that excited. While saying this, I would also like to say that the central government might have its own constraints.

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