KATHMANDU, Nov 1: A meeting of the Federal Democratic Republic Alliance (FDRA) on Wednesday suggested to the government to prepare to bring a full annual budget by mid-November and expand the cabinet even as the opposition parties have repeatedly announced that they would intensify anti-government protests if the ruling coalition takes any decision with long-term impact.
Leaders from member parties of the alliance, which is headed by ruling UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said that they suggested to the ruling party leaders to do their level best to get the consent of the opposition parties for bringing a full budget.
"The government should unveil a full budget even if the opposition parties don´t support it because the country shouldn´t be pushed into a situation without a budget," said Chairman of the Socialist Democratic People´s Party, Prem Bahadur Singh, who is also FDRA spokesman. There are over 20 political parties, most of them ruling parties, in the alliance.
A meeting of the ruling parties on Monday had decided to unveil an annual budget by mid-November at any cost, saying that vital government agencies already face a serious budget crunch and the situation is going to become alarming in other sectors as well within a few weeks.
The alliance meeting on Wednesday also decided to expand the cabinet and appoint some new faces if negotiations with the opposition parties yielded no result in the next couple of days.
"The first priority is obviously to form a national consensus government but if the talks make no headway there is no point holding the entire country hostage," said Singh.
According to him, the next round of FDRA meeting to be held Friday will take a decision as per the progress made in talks on Thursday among the four political forces -- UCPN (Maoist), NC, CPN-UML and Madhes-based parties.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai currently holds several ministerial portfolios including defense, commerce and supplies, energy, general administration, law and justice, parliamentary and federal affairs, agricultural development and youth and sports.
There are currently 16 ministers including the prime minister, whereas there were as many as 49 ministers at one point. The number of ministers came down significantly after the NC and CPN-UML quit the government in May within a few days of joined it, following differences over major political issues.
The FDRA meeting also entrusted UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal with the responsibility of holding "decisive talks" with the opposition in connection with a package deal on broader political issues.
"We have told him to hold decisive talks and announce clearly in public what the issues that they settled in consensus are and what issues they failed to reconcile," he said.