Budget Fiasco

Will new government bring another budget?

Published On: July 20, 2016 02:30 AM NPT By: KUVERA CHALISE/BAL KRISHNA ADHIKARI

KATHMANDU, July 20: Nepal has seen many things that it had never witnessed in its history in the past decade. As if it were not enough, the country could see a new budget altogether for Fiscal Year 2016/17 with the formation of a new government.

With the latest political tug-of war, the future of the budget introduced by the KP Sharma Oli-led government has become uncertain. It will eventually hit the economy hard. As the incumbent Prime Minister Oli is buying time in Baluwatar, claiming constitutional confusion, the opposition Nepal Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) - a coalition partner till last week - are showing reluctance to pass the budget bills in the parliament.

Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi said that the next government may not give continuity to the budget that was presented by the incumbent finance minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel in the parliament on June 28. "Since the remaining budget bills have no relevance as they have not been passed by the end of the last fiscal year, July 16, the new government could bring another budget," he said, claiming that PM Oli is trying to buy time asking the opposition to pass the budget bills first.

As the parliament has already passed Appropriation Bill that will let the government spend from the beginning of the current fiscal year, which started on July 16, the remaining bills have no relevance, Nidhi added. "The government has no problem either in mobilizing revenue as the Tax Mobilization Act, 2012 BS has come into effect from June 29. The Act will also authorize government to mobilize tax for 6 months till November 30."

The parliament had endorsed the Appropriation Bill, 2073 BS with a majority, authorizing the government hand to spend from July 16.

Poudel had also tabled remaining bills related to budget -- Finance Bill 2073 BS, Bill to Mobilize Internal Loans, and Loan and Guarantee Bill (21st amendment), seeking parliament's approval. The remaining bills were scheduled to be approved by the parliament on July 13 before the new fiscal year started.

However, with the coalition partner CPN (Maoist centre) withdrawing support to the Oli-led government and registering a no-confidence motion on July 13, the budget approval process has been postponed indefinitely.

The ruling CPN-UML on Sunday asked the opposition Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) to help pass the budget before discussing the no-confidence motion. However, Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) have been asking Oli to resign and pave way for forming new government before passing the budget.

Former finance secretary Rameshwor Khanal also said that the government will have no problem in mobilizing revenue and spending for six months as the parliament has passed the Tax Mobilization Act, 2012 BS and the Appropriation Bill, 2073 BS by the parliament.

But he also said that the next government could bring new budget, disowning the one that is in parliament. "The parliament will ask the next government to either carry on with the current bills or bring new budget," he said, adding that though it has not happened in the history, the next government could disown the budget presented by the incumbent government and bring a new one altogether.

Finance Minister Poudel on June 28 brought a budget of Rs 1048.90 billion for the current fiscal year. The budget that was brought before the fiscal year started, according to the new constitution, had raised hopes that the budget will be implemented and that public spending will be increased. However, the latest development has again made the future of the budget and the economy uncertain.

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