Triangular Fight On Budget
The president too has come out with his ‘political position’ on a full-fledged budget, making it a triangular fight.
It will be the fifth consecutive year that the announcement of national budget has been a victim of ‘free-republican’ politics overdose. At times, the presentation of the budget has been delayed by months, very often it came in piecemeal and many times, a change in the government has drastically changed the priorities in the middle or the fag end of the fiscal year (FY). Unlike in the past, the timeliness of the budget announcement was hampered by political bickering between the ruling alliance and the opposition in the parliament. But, this time around, a third party--the president--has also come out with his ‘political position’ on a full-fledged budget, making it a triangular fight.
On the 5th of July, President Ram Baran Yadav hinted that he would not put the seal of assent on the full ‘finance ordinance’ covering the entire FY 2012/13. This controversy was absolutely unnecessary. Apart from that, the president’s willingness to choose ‘this over that’ is even more distressing. In view of the danger of financial crisis looming large and private sector confidence hitting bottom rock, the sincere effort from all quarters should have been to bring about a full-budget. This would have at least helped to boost the investors’ confidence and provided some degree of policy predictability in the economy. One of the major concerns of the opposition parties—mainly the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML—is that the full-budget will provide the government to allocate more sum for its party’s vested interests. That may or may not be true, but the kind of protest these parties are now engaged in, is also not going to stop the present government either to practice porkbarrel economy.
The wisest thing for the opposition would have been to be a part of the budget formulation team. Instead of sloganeering from outside, they could have stopped the government from allocating exorbitant amount for the UCPN-Maoists’ pet schemes like Youth Self-employment and the agreed full-payment to its ex-combatants. Nepal seems to be sharply veering from the objective of concluding the peace process. This means that there will be prolonged political uncertainty and, if a consensus is not reached soon, many more budgets to follow are likely to be victims of Nepal’s sharply polarised politics. And, thus the woes of economy are sure to aggravate. Therefore, the major political forces of the country must first cease the practice of treating the annual budget as a means to meet their sectarian political ends.