June 7: The House of Representatives (HoR) continues general discussions on the Annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure (Budget) for Fiscal Year 2023/24.
Taking part in the deliberations on Wednesday, lawmaker Dilendra Prasad Badu said the budget for the upcoming fiscal year brought by the government has taken positive initiatives for improving the overall economic condition of the nation.
"It has made efforts towards increasing the capital expenditure and cutting down on the unproductive expenses. The government has also prepared the time-bound action plan on budget implementation," he said, adding that the provision of enhancing the effectiveness of implementation of budget for the next fiscal year and the decision of dissolving and merging 20 government entities were positive aspects of the budget.
Raghuveer Mahaseth raised a question on the implementation aspect of the budget. He stressed that the projects of national pride and priority should be designed on EPCF concept. "The government is responsible for the delay in preparing the DPR of the Birgunj-Kathmandu and Rasuwa-Kathmandu Railway. Works on Sunkoshi Marin, Bheri Babai and Rani Jamara among the irrigation projects have not been attached due priority," he pointed out.
Lawmaker Lekhnath Dahal opined that the government has tried to address all the positive topics raised by the parliamentarians through the policies and programmes and the budget. "Checking revenue leakage, maintaining budget allocation efficiency, prioritization of good governance and service delivery and keeping the production and industrial sector in priority for promoting capital formation are some of the positive aspects of the budget," he added.
Manish Jha criticized the budget, saying it lacked harmonization between income and expenditure. He said the citizens should take ownership of the budget.
"The government should be clear about which sector has to be prioritized for the comprehensive economic development of the country. It is not clear where this sort of budget will take us until 2030. So, this budget is merely ritualistic," he said.
Deepak Bahadur Singh said the budget has failed to bring any concrete plans and programmes on addressing the problems faced by most of the industries in the country. He also questioned the effectiveness of the subsidies provided to the farmers. "It is necessary to stop the import of vegetables, fruits, food grains and other agricultural goods from other countries including India and to provide protection to the domestic agricultural goods and produce," he stressed.
Lawmaker Upendra Yadav said the budget has both positive and negative sides. "There are some positive, some negative and some discriminatory issues, he shared, claiming that the budget has failed to adopt the concept of balanced and inclusive development.
Lawmaker Yadav said the process to prepare the budget is wrong, adding, "People may think that lawmakers and ministers prepare the budget, but employees, and middlemen prepare it."
Similarly, lawmaker Sher Bahadur Kunwar expressed the view that decreasing share of capital expenditure in the annual budget is a matter of worry.
"The share of capital expenditure in the budget was equal to 65 percent three decades ago. But it has now decreased to 17 percent. Keeping the country's economy in poor condition is a matter of concern for all of us", he mentioned.
Kunwar further said the cooperative sector, which is considered as the main pillar of the three-pillar economic policy, could not be mobilized in building the economy.
Another lawmaker Anita Devi complained of allocating inadequate budget in Madhes Province for the coming fiscal year.
The budget has failed to meet the expectation of strengthening fiscal federalism implementation, she said.
Similarly, lawmaker Chitra Bahadur KC raised questions over the federal system, adding there was no alternative to reduce cabinet size, ministries and scrapping federalism to reduce expenses.
He stressed the need of providing voting rights to migrant Nepalis.
Lawmaker Dr Amaresh Kumar Singh mentioned that Madhesh has been discriminated against in the course of distributing resources. He further said that arrangements should be made to provide education, health and justice free of cost. --RSS