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“No populism”

Monday, June 24th, 2013
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Interview with Finance Minister Shankar Koirala.

How are you preparing this year’s budget?

Shankar Koirala: Last year’s budget came in three fractions and was bad for the economy, so we want it on time this year. We have received various proposals from each ministry, and for three hours each day we hold ministry-level discussions to bring the budget within 15 July.

What will be the difference between last year’s and this year’s budget?

Since we don’t have an elected parliament, this year’s budget will be passed through an ordinance. It will be election-centric. Besides that, we will also accelerate development and have prioritised energy, infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, and export sectors. Instead of catering to populist notions, this year’s budget will address national development.

Will your budget also focus on mega projects and development works?

This is our chance to give a sort of consistency to budget announcements. We have had various people asking us to prioritise certain sectors, but there is very little political pressure. So we will focus on proposals passed in local, regional, and central levels as well as those commissioned by the NPC.

How will you prevent this money from being used for political programmes?

We have stopped all forms of financial support including donations, so we are not in the mood to come up with a ‘distributary’ budget like in the past. This year’s programs have not been shaped by political greed and sloganeering.

Is it true that this government doesn’t have power to change tax rates or announce a full budget?

No, the amendment to the constitution gave us powers to do budget. But we don’t plan to change tax rates.

Every year, development money ends up unused. How will you solve this problem?

This year’s budget will come on time. So we will ask the ministries to come up with fully formed development plans by 16 July and then give them full powers to implement those plans.

Ramesh Kumar and Ramji Dahal

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