Finance Minister, Ram Saran Mahat, has made the annual budget of Rs. 143.91 billion rupees public on Wednesday. Basically, the budget aims to establish peace and create infrastructures in the country. There are a few new things in the budget which have tried to address people’s aspirations. The royal palace budget has been slashed by about 45% while villages have been given an increase in their annual grants to 1 million rupees. However, maoists aren’t happy with the budget.
Of the total Rs 143.91 billion, Dr Mahat allocated Rs 83.76 billion for regular expenditure, Rs 44.97 billion for capital investment and Rs 15.168 for payment of principal amounts of loans.
The new budget aims to raise Rs 85.37 billion from internal revenue, Rs 23.72 billion from foreign grants and Rs 16.90 billion from foreign loans. The deficit budget for the year 2006/07 stands at Rs 22.451 billion.
The government has allocated Rs. 1.25 billion to conduct the constituent assembly elections, scheduled to be held by mid-April next year.
The government has also increased the annual budget granted to VDCs from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 1 million.
Other highlights as specified in Kantipur:
*Nearly Rs. 8 billion for road construction
* Rs.3.96 billion for agricultural development
*Rs. 100 million for women empowerment programmes
* Rs. 920 million for judicial administration
*Monthly allowances for elderly and helpless people increased from Rs. 175 to Rs. 200; widows increased from Rs. 125 to Rs. 150 and for women widowed due to conflict from Rs 125 to Rs 200
*10% dearness allowance to civil servants
*Rs. 1.1 billion for the reconstruction of the destroyed physical structures in the conflict and assistance to the families of those killed in the conflict
*Rs. 1.25 billion allocated to the Poverty Alleviation Fund to implement 667 income generating programmes, 379 community infrastructure development programmes, and 1,714 creative programmes in 1200 VDCs
*Rs 4 billion for expansion of irrigation facility and for control of water-induced disasters
*Rs 1.76 billion for programmes under rural electrification scheme
However, these changes did not make the brothers from the jungle happy. They wanted their participation in the government and budget formulation. Since this budget was prepared without any consultation with the jungle brothers, it failed to include their ideas. Naturally maoists would feel ignored.
On a supposedly good note, taxes on drinks, cigarettes have been raised by 5% point while the taxes on working capital and other raw materials have been slashed down. These tax changes are also meant to adopt with the WTO requirements.
Additionally, the budget has also increased the salary of the civil servants to allow for the inflation.
I do feel that this budget has come at a crucial time and there are a lot of issues to be addressed. So, it is hard to analyze the budget. Our budget is too low to address all these issues. So, we have to think twice before we criticize the budget.
source: http://www.kantipuronline.com, July 12, 2006