Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada has urged lawmakers to cut him some slack this fiscal year claiming that capital expenditure has been low as the government was busy formulating laws.
Speaking in the House of Representatives (HoR) on Monday during the discussion on the principles and priorities for the upcoming budget, he conceded that capital expenditure has been poor this year and assured to improve it in the next year.
Lawmakers raised the issue of budget implementation and capital expenditure during the discussion. “We could not make capital expenditure on a regular cycle at the pace we wanted throughout the year. But we have an alibi to justify poor capital expenditure this year,” Khatiwada said in response to the queries of lawmakers.
He pointed that the government could not carry out capital expenditure at the expected level as it was busy in formulating laws until March, and making preparations for expenditure, revenue rights, financial working procedure, and arranging staffers.
“We will not have this excuse the next year. We will present the budget on May 29 and start implementation of the budget from that day,” he assured.
He also pointed at the need for reform in the Public Procurement Act and decision making process. “We will look to resolve the problems seen in the Public Procurement Act and decision making process through amendment in the House to move forward in a way that the budget is implemented faster,” he stated.
He also revealed that sector-wise priorities have not been set in the upcoming budget. “The face of human beings is lost when we look for sector-wise priorities. Our priority is to make the face of all Nepalis brighter.”
He argued that agriculture should be moved forward along with development in other areas instead of prioritizing it. “The government is not and will not be stuck on sector-wise priorities. Our priorities include policy prioritization, and selection or programs and projects,” he stressed.
He conceded that he cannot promise to reduce trade deficit. “Trade deficit has been continuously rising in the past 30-35 years. I cannot promise even today that we will end it and go into surplus. Our efforts today are only to cut it.”