KATHMANDU, April 28: The upcoming budget for 2012/13 that would size at around Rs 429 billion will significantly raise allocations for agriculture sector, including agriculture inputs, extension services and irrigation, aiming to develop the sector and rural economy, according to senior government officials.
The objectives of the new budget will remain same as the past and aim for broad-based economic growth, inclusion and job creation, said Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission (NPC) Deependra Bahadur Kshetry.
Going by the thrust of the reigning development plan, he said the new budget will accord top priority to agriculture, tourism, hydropower and infrastructure development, as these sectors can create more jobs.
“We have already received programs from all the ministries that were informed about their respective ministerial ceiling and are preparing to hold discussions on them soon,” said Kshetry, speaking at the Finance and Labor Relations Committee of the Parliament.
The committee had summoned the senior Ministry of Finance (MoF) and NPC officials to discuss on the priority and programs of the upcoming budget.
Finance Secretary Krishna Hari Baskota said that the government will stick to the prudent fiscal norms while formulating the new budget. But at the same time, he said, rising recurrent budget, which has been set at Rs 266.67 billion for this fiscal year and proposed at around Rs 280 billion for the new fiscal year, has posed serious challenges to the government in generating required resources.
“So far, we have not managed to mobilize revenue to the extent we targeted. Even if we managed to collect the annual target, fixed at around Rs 242 billion for this year, indications suggest we will face trouble in mobilizing enough revenue to finance even recurrent budget,” he stated.
Despite such scenario, he said the government will limit the mobilization of domestic borrowing at less than Rs 38 billion for the next fiscal year.
Lawmakers at the committee raised concern over ballooning recurrent expenditure and suggested the government to control it by eliminating duplicating agencies in agriculture and other developmental sectors. They also lambasted the government for not identifying reasons behind poor capital spending and not working seriously to correct the existing weaknesses.
Lawmakers also raised serious concern over the government´s failure to manage fuel supplies, referring to the ongoing scarcity of petroleum products. “This has made life worse for general consumers and affected development works, inflicting huge social cost,” said Jip Tshiring Lama, a Nepali Congress lawmaker. “If the government cannot raise the price, it should pledge subsidy. The existing policy of leaving the consumers to suffer from frequent scarcity has hurt individuals´ as well as country´s output.”
Another lawmaker Shree Ram Dhakal urged the government to immediately stop non-budgetary expenses and illegal fund transfers.
“Instead of distributing the fund to petty projects pushed by the lawmakers in the last quarter of the fiscal year, we suggest the government to announce one central road project of about Rs 50 million for each district,” he stated.