The National Assembly (NA) has begun discussions on the government’s estimates of the income and expenditure for the fiscal year 2020/21. In today’s session of the Upper House, Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada presented a proposal seeking the commencement of discussions on the budget. Taking part in the first-day discussion, lawmakers representing the ruling parties said the budget had set priority to the current necessities while the opposition parties’ lawmakers claimed the budget failed to identify priorities and necessities of the country.
It may be noted that the government on May 28 had presented the budget of Rs 1,474 billion for the upcoming fiscal year in the joint session of the Federal Parliament. Narayan Kaji Shrestha of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said the budget was brought by taking the national necessities into consideration was appropriate and relevant. ”It has addressed the present unusual situation and set priority to make the post COVID-19 economy dynamic,” he observed. He went on to say that a 33 percent rise in health budget, announcement to bring all Nepali citizens under the health insurance coverage by the next three days, operation of an advanced health facility in every State were the strong points of the budget which was focused on building socialism along with social justice by creating jobs and enhancing production.
”However, the budget lacks game-changing projects and vision in the wake of COVID-19,” he admitted. Another members of NCP, Dil Kumari Rawal Thapa (Parbati), Bimala Ghimire and Bhairav Sundar Shrestha described the budget as realistic and relevant, seeking the initiations of three-tier government and bureaucracy for its effective implementations. Nepali Congress lawmaker Jitendra Narayan Dev accused the budget failed to speak up the voices of working-class people, poor and indigent community. It is just focused on serving the interests of elite class people, according to him. Rastriya Janata Party’s Mrigendra Singh Yadav said the budget could not announce expected programmes in the areas of agricultural production and health promotion. Socialist Party’s Pramila Kumari said it was positive that the budget had accorded priorities to the containment of COVID-19 and elimination of other infectious diseases. However it failed to create a financial balance and sectoral equality and pay proper attention to the health and agricultural issues in the present crisis.