By Modnath Dhakal Kathmandu, Sept. 13: Finance Minister Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ said that the programmes that wouldn’t give any result to people and the economy but would add additional burden on the state coffers are scrapped through the Replacement Bill 2021/22. “Programmes prepared just for the sake of plans and announced with the hope of foreign assistance without any agreement or understanding with the donors are done away with,” he said in the post-bill discussion organised at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Sunday.
FM Sharma said that to meet the 7 per cent target of the economic growth set by the present government for the current Fiscal Year 2021/22, the government will develop a mechanism for the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of development project and will facilitate for their smooth and rapid execution.
“We have set a target to mobilse at least 10 per cent capital budget each month. Two months of the current year are already wasted so if we achieve this target, about 80 per cent budget could be mobilised,” he said. The country could utilise only 64.69 per cent of the Rs. 352.9 per cent development budget in the last FY 2020/21 while the recurrent expenditure was 89.7 per cent of Rs. 948.9 billion and 58.4 per cent financing was mobilised out of total Rs. 172.7 billion. Meanwhile, as the second month of the current fiscal is going to end on Thursday, only 0.52 per cent capital and 4.5 per cent recurrent budget could be mobilised as the new government wanted to replace some programmes announced by the erstwhile government to ‘save resources’.
FM Sharma has downsized the budget by Rs. 15 billion – to Rs. 1632.83 billion from Rs. 1647 billion. “To meet the growth target, we will mobilse 10 per cent capital budget each month at any cost. You will soon see the impact of this announcement,” he said. The Minister also said that a procedure would be formulated to distribute cash to the poor families as the COVID-19 support during the festival season. “This is a revolutionary step in the context of Nepal since cash relief at such a scale has never been distributed to the poor families in the past,” he said. “Although all deprived households couldn’t be reached with the size of resources we have, further programmes will be developed to include them in the programme.”
FM Sharma has announced that Rs. 10,000 cash will be distributed to 500,000 families as the pandemic relief. According to him, the government has estimated that there are about 900,000 poor families in Nepal. He also stated that the government had accorded top priority to agriculture. “Agriculture centres will be established in each province to facilitate farmers in managing inputs, fertilizers and other logistics,” he said and added that the government would devise programme to help the farmers in production, collection and processing the produces. According to the Minister, Detailed Project Reports of the development and infrastructure programmes, including hydroelectricity projects, will be done by the NEA Engineering and its capacity will be enhanced to meet the demand.
He also said that the payment of COVID-19 insurance was in limbo due to resource crunch. Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Biswo Nath Poudel said that the government is adopting the EPCF (Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing) model in larger infrastructure to reduce time and cost overrun.
Finance Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini said that fiscal discipline was maintained in the replacement bill and capital budget is increased even though the total budget is downsized. He also said that the revenue discounts will be given to those enterprises that could increase the domestic production and create more jobs. Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank, Maha Prasad Adhikari, said that the monetary policy will be adjusted to accommodate the new growth rate of 7 per cent. Former FM Bishnu Prasad Paudel had set the growth target at 6.5 per cent.