KATHMANDU, Sept 2: As the lack of a full-fledged budget bears on day-to-day government operations and the spending on development activities, it has become crucial that the political parties agree on a minimum common economic agenda (MCEA) to pave the way for the announcement of a full budget, said Finance Secretary Krishna Hari Baskota.
He even floated a number of broader economic policies and some specific programs as a starter for the parties to consider so that they can reach an understanding.
For instance, he said the MCEA can be formulated by agreeing on fundamental principles like continuation of liberal economic policy, non-discrimination of domestic and foreign investment, non-nationalization of private ventures and adherence to international agreements and commitment for the economic development of the country.
“The agenda can incorporate policies like increasing tax base, instead of tax rates; gradual reduction of government liabilities in public enterprises; providing incentives to infrastructure development and productive investments; and ensuring people’s rights to housing, instead of land,” said Baskota, speaking at a program.
He argued that MCEA can be worked out by signing bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA) and double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) with potential investor countries, and by creating an environment for rapid industrialization, exports promotion, imports displacement and rise in domestic productions and consumptions. “Parties can also converge on allocations of adequate budget on national priority projects and announcement of annual budget on a specific date, irrespective of prevailing political situations,” he viewed.
Baskota stressed on the earliest announcement of full-fledged budget as in its absence the country was failing to take benefits despite a strong macro-economic situation.
“Country’s macro-economic indicators are really good. We can devise more focused and result-oriented programs targeting industrial and infrastructure development. Hence, we must come up with a full-fledged budget soon to take benefit of the situation,” Baskota added.
Secretary Baskota also stressed on the need to intensify the monitoring of cooperatives that number around 25,300. “As they have mobilized huge deposits, which put together amounts to Rs 127.21 billion, and have issued loans worth Rs 136.29 billion, there is a pressing need to ensure their financial health,” said Baskota.
According to a data of Department of Cooperatives, around 700 cooperative firms have transactions worth more than Rs 50 million each, while some 50 such firms’ transactions stand at well over Rs 500 million.
“The role of cooperatives in mobilizing smaller savings and ensuring access to finances for wider population can never be undermined in countries like ours. But what worries us the most is the presence of deep-seated anomalies in how a majority of these institutions operate,” said Baskota.
He disclosed that a high-level committee including officials from Ministry of Finance, Nepal Rastra Bank and the Department of Cooperatives are presently working on ways to step up monitoring and regulations of cooperatives in order to safeguard depositors’ money.