KATHMANDU, June 10: A meeting of the House of Representatives of the federal parliament on Wednesday endorsed the Appropriation Bill for the fiscal year 2077/78 BS.
The Appropriation Bill is considered as the main budget document, which allows the government to implement budgetary programmes by utilising funds allocated by the Ministry of Finance. The lawmakers from the opposition party had registered 26 expenditure deduction proposals over the Appropriation Bill. All these proposals were rejected by a majority of the federal parliament’s members during the session.
A large number of lawmakers expressed their concerns on the government’s proposed reduction in expenses of the budget. The lawmakers criticized the government for curtailing expenses by a nominal amount just to get popularity. Many of them had been stressing that the government should have considered qualitative restructuring of the existing bureaucratic set up to reduce government’s expenses in view of the state’s scarce financial resources as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Finance Minister Khatiwada had on May 28 presented the budget for 2020/21 amounting Rs 1,474.64 billion before the Federal Parliament's joint session.
Out of the total budget, the government has allocated Rs 948.94 billion towards recurrent expenditure and Rs 352.91 billion for capital expenditure while Rs 172.79 billion has been allocated for financing provision. Likewise, the government has set a target of collecting revenue of Rs 889.62 billion while it has expected to receive foreign grants and loans of Rs 60.52 billion and Rs 299.5 billion, respectively, to finance the proposed expenses.
Speaking at the ongoing House session, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said the budget has tried to maintain transparency as much as possible. He said that the government will consider reducing the funds in miscellaneous headings as suggested by the parliament members.
“However, amid the shortfall in revenue collection, the government is forced to raise the internal debt to finance the utility projects and social security, while some of the funds are needed to be spent on the administrative purpose and capacity building related to these sectors,” he said.
Khatiwada also brushed aside lawmakers’ allegation that he leaked vital information related to tax hike on electric vehicles to help a particular business house to take undue benefits. “The tax rates in every budget is fixed on the previous night just before the day of budget announcement, while the statistics of the concerned agency also shows that the import of electric vehicles was nominal in the last hour before the budget announcement,” Khatiwada said. On Wednesday, the Lower House also endorsed Bill to Raise Public Debt.