KATHMANDU, Nov 6: A meeting of the Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA), comprising mostly of ruling parties, has decided to try its best to forge consensus with the opposition parties on preparing a new budget by mid-November.
Leaders from the Alliance parties, at a meeting on Monday, said that the first priority should be reaching a package deal comprising a solution to the overall political deadlock and introduction of the annual budget.
"But if we fail to forge consensus on the broader political issues, we should separate the budget-related issue from politics, and the ruling as well as opposition parties need to reach an agreement on the financial issue because the country shouldn´t be pushed into a situation without a budget," Chairman of Socialist Democratic People´s Party Prem Bahadur Singh, who is also spokesman of the Alliance, told Republica.
According to him, leaders from all the political parties present in the Alliance, headed by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, were one on the idea.
At the meeting, Dahal briefed the leaders on the efforts to reach an agreement while Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun informed about the government´s preparations for bringing a new budget.
The finance minister said at the meeting that the government was preparing the new budget as per the projection made for this year by former finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari when he worked out the previous budget under the government led by CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal.
Finance Minister Pun said CPN-UML leader Adhikari had projected a budget of Rs. 429 billion for this year and the present government was working on that basis. "The finance minister said that the ministry wants to add budget appropriations only under some heads such as new elections, plans for reducing power cuts, and providing subsidy on chemical fertilizers and petroleum products, which are essential," Singh said.
He argued that forging consensus on the budget "is essential as well as possible" because even the opposition parties including Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML are not against bringing a new budget at all but they are for introducing a new budget only through consensus among ruling and opposition parties.
While the ruling parties have been insisting on bringing the annual budget, saying that failure to do so would be tantamount to pushing the country into a financial crisis, the opposition parties have been reiterating that a new government should bring the budget. They argue that the present caretaker government has no mandate to bring a full-fledged budget.