NC, UML no to full-fledged budget sans political consensus
KATHMANDU, June 21: Leaders of Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML on Wednesday urged the government not to unveil full-fledged budget without forging broader political consensus.
If the government acted forcefully on budget, it would ´invite an accident´, they said.
“Budget without political consensus will look something like setting policies and priorities by ignoring the country´s political reality and people´s aspirations. No party will own such a document,” former finance minister and UML leader Surendra Pandey said.
NC leader Deep Kumar Upadhyaya echoed Pandey and said: “If the government wants to announce full-fledged budget, it must invite all parties for talks. We are ready to cooperate with the government. Otherwise, it must unveil stopgap budget for three months only.”
The comments come at a time when Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun has been reiterating that the government will unveil full-fledged budget for fiscal year 2012/13. To pave way for full-fledged budget, Minister Pun a few weeks ago had announced that he will form an all-party mechanism inviting leaders from all the parties, especially NC and CPN-UML.
“The minister´s commitment has turned hollow. We have not received any invitation as such,” both Upadhyay and Pandey said.
They also beg to differ with FM Pun´s statement that full-fledged budget with new programs was much needed at this juncture to give pace to development works and steer the country on the path of double-digit growth.
“Will budget alone will be sufficient to assure entrepreneurs and investors? Will they not consider existing constitutional vacuum and political blankness while putting in their money in the country?” questioned Pandey.
Principally, both the leaders clarified that they believe the country must get a full-fledged budget on time.
“But the reality is; dissolution of Constituent Assembly without endorsing a clear provision to show the way forward has pushed the country into a deep tunnel of crisis. Our focus, hence, should be on getting out of this mess, and not the budget,” said Upadhyaya.
“Once we agree on the political discourse, there will be automatic understanding on giving the country a full-fledged bankable budget,” stated Pandey.
There will be consensus: FM
Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun on Wednesday said the government would announce full-fledged budget only after building consensus among major political parties.
"Talks among top political leaders began from Wednesday itself. We still have around three weeks to finalize the budget. I believe we will forge understanding by then," Pun told Republica.
He debunked the opposition parties´ charges that the government was trying to force budget without holding consultations. "We have held discussions with former finance ministers. Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai too has talked about unveiling the full-fledged budget with senior opposition leaders when he talked with them while enacting bills related to anti-money laundering," he said.
Pun also said he would continue to make further efforts to strike out an understanding among all the political parties for timely formulation and announcement of budget for 2012/13. He said the upcoming budget would give continuity to the large-scale development projects, which have been prioritized by the government.
"There will be new programs as well. We have committed numerous new programs in our immediate action plan on economic growth and prosperity. There is a need to fulfill those commitments," he stated.
When questioned whether Nepali Congress and CPN UML will approve the government´s bid to incorporate those programs in the budget, Pun said he was positive about it.
"These programs were adopted solely to fulfill the development aspirations and drive the country on the path of higher economic growth. I do not think they will oppose it. Besides, majority of those programs are continuation of commitments that governments made in the past," Pun stated.
Pun reiterated that the new budget will focus on job creation, infrastructure and industrial development and export promotion. "There will be special offers to attract investments," he stated.