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Finance Committee to fix dates for budget presentation, approval

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KATHMANDU, October 16: :Members of the parliamentary Finance Committee have agreed to fix a date for tabling and approval of budget to pave way for timely implementation of development programs.
Prakash Jwala, chairman of the committee, said they arrived at the conclusion after holding discussion with Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, Chief Secretary Leela Mani Poudyal and members of the National Planning Commission (NPC).
The date, however, will be fixed in the next meeting.
Likewise, the committee will also define timeframe for budget discussion and deadline for budget approval. Members of the committee believe this will discourage the trend of creating hurdles in budget preparation and approval due to vested interests.
Speaking at the meeting on ´Changing Fiscal Year and Tabling the Budget in the Parliament´, some lawmakers said mid-July is not an appropriate time for fiscal year to begin. Others, however, said there is nothing wrong with the timing. They said development programs are being affected because of inactiveness of implementing agencies, slow work culture and the tendency to start works at the eleventh hour.
Former finance minister Surendra Pandey said budget should be presented on a specific date in a suitable time, preferably after the last week of February.
However, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat suggested there is nothing wrong with presenting budget in mid-July as most of the construction works are implemented between mid-March to mid-June. “It won´t be good to break projects into two fiscal years,” he added. “We need an early budget and an effective pre-budget discussion to be ready for project implementation in time after securing program approval and completing tender process.”
Janardan Dhakal, another lawmaker, said that the problem lies in the mindset and working culture of implementing agencies.
Referring the report of ´Commission for Reviewing the Government Budget and Expenditure System 2066´, Deepak Prasad Kuinkel, another lawmaker, said fiscal year in itself is not a problem. “Financial indiscipline, donor-oriented programs and high spending in least productive sectors are the major problems.
They should be discouraged,” he added.
The commission had suggested to the government to table budget on Baiskah 15 (first week of May) and getting budget approval before mid-July.
Mahat also criticized the main opposition party UCPN (Maoist) for affecting budget approval process by obstructing house proceedings. Budget could be approved after nearly 90 days because of the obstruction.
Speaking at the meeting, Chief Secretary Leela Mani Poudyal lamented that they had to answer lawmakers´ queries on budget implementation instead of focusing on implementation of budget.
Lawmaker Kamala Pant suggested putting in place provision that bars political parties from obstructing budget proceedings.
Parliamentarians from different parties suggested to NPC to focus on mega projects instead of working on small projects

Source: REPUBLICA

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