KATHMANDU, May 31: Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada unveiled budget for Fiscal Year 2019/20 in parliament on Wednesday.
The government has unveiled a budget of Rs 1,530 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget size is 17 percent higher than the budget for the current fiscal year. Though the government has not introduced any notable new development project, it has raised the rates of major taxes and increased allocations for distributive programs.
However, the budget has raised the social security allowance for elderly citizens, hiked the salary of government staff and increased funds for parliamentarians for development work in their constituencies.
Republica talked to different personalities in different parts of the country for their comments on the budget. Excerpts:
Budget looks populist
-Shivahari Sharma Mudbhari
Of all the programs, I am excited with the program for development of railway. The policy to provide grants to various industries and promote keep biogas plants is very positive. Good thing is, the government has not excluded any sector in the budget. Overall, it seems like a populist budget. Out of total budget of over Rs 1500 billion, the government will face deficit of around one-third of the total budget outlay. The government has hiked salary of civil servants by about 20 percent. The decision is expected to make impact in the private sector as well. Making electricity easily available in Sudurpashchim Province has won heart of the local population. However, the concept of Syaule-Dipayal fast track sounds no less than joke. Besides, the budget lacks concrete policies for avoid huge losses in business and development projects. The government could have revived many factories, which were shut earlier, to decrease imports.
Implementation will be challenging
Chief of Kanchan Vidhya Mandir College
The budget looks impressive. The country will be hugely benefited if it is implemented effectively. However, budget allocation for education sector is not that satisfactory. It would have made a huge difference had the government set aside 25-30 percent of the budget for the education sector. But there is no denial that the budget will play a pivotal role for development of certain sectors. Had the government had encouraged small and medium scale industries, import of different commodities would have come down immediately. Increment in recurrent expenditure by 25 to 30 percent every year does not augur well for our economy. Effective and planned implementation of budget is the most challenging part. The lack of effective planning and implementation results in substandard works, especially toward the end of the fiscal year. The government has prioritized agricultural sector which very good. Similarly, the concept of merging small scale industries to provide employment to lot of youths has been appreciated by many.
Budget aims to appease political leaders
Chief of Economics Department
Butwal Multiple Campus, Butwal
As budget is an important financial document, it must reflect development. The government with two-third majority should have taken some risks and allocated budget for new projects. Sadly, it did not happen. It has been two years since the government adopted federal set up. But we cannot see spirit of federalism it the budget, it still looks Kathmandu-centric. There is no program to bridge the gap between cities and villages, and rich and poor. The budget fails to create environment conducive for investment. Instead, there are a lot of programs aimed at appeasing political leaders. The decision to increase budget allocation for Parliamentary Development Fund and failure to lower budget of security agencies hiked up during insurgency is a weakness of this government. Many other projects like railways and waterways no base for implementation.
Budget is inclusive
Chief of Economics Department
Tribhuwan Multiple Campus, Palpa
Budget for the upcoming fiscal year seems very impressive. Increment of social security allowance and salary of civil servants have pleased many. Almost all projects included in the budget are good. Inclusion of all sectors has made everyone happy. But living up to the people's expectations and implementing budget is going to be a big challenge for the government. Development budget has not gone up much. But recurrent budget has been increased significantly. The government has prioritized good governance and development which is good. Allocation of budget for development and promotion of cultural heritage sites and places rich in natural beauty must be applauded. Even the industrial sector has been equally prioritized.
Budget is Kathmandu-centric
Officiating President of Morang Merchants Association
Though the budget is remarkable, it is not that exciting for Biratnagar. Despite continuous request from the business community of Biratnagar to prioritize the city in budget, it has been neglected. The government should have prioritized construction of financial hub, expansion of Biratnagar Airport, and construction of highway, among others. Kathmandu and its nearby areas have been given emphasis in the budget. Federalism is not reflected in this budget. The programs aimed at developing tourism, banking sector, and increasing domestic productions, among others, are encouraging. Hike in customs duty for imported goods is sure to make domestic productions competitive. I hope policies and programs will not remain in papers only like in the past years.