September 21: The Appropriation Bill, 2078 BS has been tabled in the National Assembly today (September 21) a day after it was passed by the House of Representatives with majority votes.
Secretary of the Parliament Secretariat Rajendra Phuyal reportedly tabled the bill before the NA session on September 21.
Once the bill gets passed from the both Houses, it will be presented to President Bidya Devi Bhandari for authentication. It shall come into effect once the Head-of-the-State authenticates it.
This will pave way for the government to spend the new budget, as it had been unable to spend the budget since September 16.
The government is preparing to resolve the issue as soon as possible as it has been facing legal hurdles to spend the budget. In this context, the Appropriation Bill has been presented in parliament to replace the budget brought through an ordinance by the previous budget.
Amid UML's obstruction, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had tabled the Finance Bill, Appropriation Bill and National Debt Raising Bill on September 11. The government had amended the previous government's budget, scrapped some projects and reduced the size of the budget as well.
The government had reduced the budget by Rs 14.74 billion and presented a budget of Rs 1.63 trillion through the replacement bill. The government had also changed some tax rates and included some new social security programs.
How was the Appropriation Bill passed?
Though the UML lawmakers were chanting slogans, Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota allowed a discussion on the replacement bill, however a long discussion was not held. The meeting was focused only on passing the Appropriation Bill.
In the past, a month-long clause-wise deliberations used to be done on the Appropriation Bill, but due to opposition's obstruction, the Speaker moved the discussions forward in a fast track way. The Speaker had given twelve minutes to Member of Parliament Prem Suwal representing Nepal Workers and Peasants Party to express his views.
"The Appropriation Bill used to be discussed in the parliament for one month. It has now been given only twelve minutes which shows the parliament is not accountable to the country and the people," said Suwal. He proposed to reduce the expenditure of various ministries. The proposal was rejected by a majority of MPs and the Speaker announced that the Appropriation Bill had been passed.
Suwal had also sought clarification from the Finance Minister on issues like the Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track. Finance Minister Sharma had answered Suwal's question in a simple manner. Then the Speaker Sapkota informed that the clause-wise deliberations on the Appropriation Bill was over. The same was the case with the Fiscal Bill.
Government won't be able to spend immediately
Even though the budget has been passed, the government will not be able to spend immediately. The government can spend only after the bill is passed by the National Assembly and is authenticated by the President. Legally, the bill received from the House of Representatives should be sent to the House of Representatives within 15 days to the National Assembly including suggestions. Then the bill is sent to the President for authentication.
Today’s meeting of the National Assembly is likely to pass the Appropriation Bill sent by the House of Representatives. After that, it will take at least 2-3 days to complete the process of authentication by the President. Government officials are confident that the budget will be implemented as the Appropriation Bill has been passed.
Earlier, the government was in a difficult position after it became unable to pass the bill to replace the budget issued through ordinance by the previous government. The government is facing a budget holiday since September 15 due to the failure to pass the replacement bill. And almost all the government spending has been stalled.
Finance Minister Janardan Sharma said that the budget was passed amidst obstruction as extending the current situation would lead to a financial crisis. "We are continuing talks and negotiation with the opposition, but if the budget is withheld for a long time, everything will come to a standstill, so it had to be taken forward," he said.
He also claimed that none of the plans introduced by then Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel had been removed but the new budget aims to increase volume of revenue collection.