Govt To Unveil Budget Tomorrow

The government is all set to announce the budget of the coming fiscal year 2021/22 through an ordinance on Jestha 15 of the Nepali calendar which falls on Saturday, as per the constitutional provision.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari will read the budget. According to the ceiling given to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) by the National Planning Commission and the ministry sources, the size of the budget is said to be around Rs. 1.7 trillion.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that the budget would be focused on programmes and infrastructure need for the prevention, control and treatment of the health crisis like COVID-19 and rehabilitation of the business. The government has also claimed that the budget is being designed in a responsible manner and no new projects will be added next year.
Economy of the country is battered by the COVID-19 pandemic that shrank the economic growth to 1.9 per cent in the last fiscal year 2019/20. However, for this year, relatively better economic situation is projected by the government as well as the institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The ADB last month projected that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nepal would grow by 3.1 per cent this year building on good paddy yield.
Likewise, the WB a couple of months ago projected that Nepali economy would grow by 2.7 per cent. The budget has a challenge to achieve higher economic growth and meet the demand of health infrastructure and facilities across the country.
The government has a challenge to implement the budget to its fullest as it has recurrently failed in spending the capital budget which has plagued infrastructure development. According to economists, without proper execution plan, it will be hard to achieve development needs.

Private sector demands
The pandemic had bruised almost every sector other than the health services and pharmaceuticals. Tourism was the most affected sector. It witnessed -16 per cent growth last year and has shown no better symptoms for this year as well.

Amidst the chaos and pressure created by the COVID-19, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) had suggested that the budget be focused on controlling the pandemic and expansion of health services, effective relief and rehabilitation programme, infrastructure development, use of technology and good governance in public services and special programmes for the private sector.
Private sector has demanded with the government to give special attention to the sectors like tourism that were severely affected by the pandemic. It has also suggested to continue the discounts on interest of the bank loan and waive off of other liabilities for at least two years, simplify the loan process for the small and medium enterprises, vaccinate all private sector employees and workers, and digitalise agricultural and public services.
As per the Digital Nepal Framework 2020, the government has to pay special attention to the development of information and communication technology sector and expansion of quality internet while the pandemic has also demanded the services like tele-medicine, e-commerce, e-payment and e-education.
Meanwhile, publishing a statement on Thursday, Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) had demanded for special relief and discounts to hotels and hospitality sector since the sector was the worst affected by the global health crisis. It said that the businesses are finding it tough to retain the employees due to the unpredictability of the business and demanded for the protection of business, establishment of protection fund, provide tax discounts and waive off and concession on bank loans.

No full budget
Former finance ministers have suggested not to bring a full budget for the next fiscal year citing the dissolution of the parliament and the subjudice case on the same at the Supreme Court.
“In absence of a majority government, case for the restoration of the House of Representatives subjudice at the court, the government should not announce full budget,” they said in a statement issued on Thursday. Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Surendra Pandey, Barsha Man Pun and Krishna Bahadur Mahara have signed the statement.
They have said that if the government had the obligation to announce the budget, it can come up with a partial budget.
Similarly, former vice-chairmen of the NPC said in a statement that the government should not bring out the budget of the next fiscal saying that there was a constitutional crisis and confusion in the country. The constitutional provision of presenting the budget on Jestha 15 does not apply when there is no HoR.
Prithvi Raj Ligal, Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, Dr. Shankar Sharma, Dr. Pitambar Sharma, Dr. Dinesh Chandra Devkota, Dipendra Bahadur Kshetri, Dr. Govinda Raj Pokharel, Dr. Min Bahadur Shrestha and Dr. Swarnim Wagle have signed the statement.