Finance Minister insists middlemen were not involved in budget-making process, clarifies that Shrestha only typed the budget

Published On: June 7, 2023 08:15 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 7: Amid criticism that the government invited an unauthorized person during the budget-making process, Finance Minister Dr Prakash Saran Mahat clarified that former Non-Gazetted First Class Officer Ram Krishna Shrestha was hired only to type the Finance Bill.

Responding to lawmakers’ queries during a meeting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Finance Minister Mahat said that Shrestha, a former non-gazetted first class officer, was hired to type the Finance Bill considering his expertise in typing.

Dr Mahat said that Shrestha was appointed as an assistant at the ministry before he assumed the role as the finance minister. 

"There was no question of him being in the decision-making process. After the decision was made, it was only a matter of typing the bill in the presence and guidance of the officials sitting in the decision-making process,” said Mahat.

Mahat said that middlemen were not allowed to come anywhere near during the preparation of the Finance Bill.

UML Chief Whip Padam Giri had raised concern in  parliament that large-scale imports of electric four-wheelers took place overnight following the information leak that tax rates were being hiked.    

However, Finance Minister Mahat defended the accusation saying that some changes were made in the tax rate through the budget because the customers did not get any benefits from the low tax rate imposed on electric vehicles while the dealers of electric vehicles were making a lot of profit.

"We gave them tax exemption, but they have not given the benefit to the customers," Mahat said while speaking in the House of Representatives. “Dealers have kept a huge margin on EVs. Due to the fact that customers are not getting the benefit of tax exemption, some taxes have been increased on EVs.”

According to Minister Mahat, taxes were initially reduced to promote the use of electric vehicles.  “As the import of these vehicles started to increase, the tax was also increased,” said Mahat.

Minister Mahat argued that the tax rate was increased to increase revenue collection. 

“The tax has been increased and it is certain that those who use EVs will not revert back vehicles that run on fossil fuel," said Dr Mahat.

He claimed that the taxes imposed on EVs are much less than those for petroleum vehicles. "With this adjustment, no one is going to buy an old car,” Dr Mahat asserted.

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