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HoR members express dissatisfaction with unfair, indiscriminate allocation of budget

B360
B360 June 19, 2024, 11:37 am
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KATHMANDU: Members of the federal parliament have voiced protest over the budget presented by the government for the upcoming fiscal year 2024/25.

In Tuesday's House of Representatives (HoR) meeting, lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with the budget by demonstrating actions such as tearing apart the annual development programme, returning its copies to the government through the Speaker, and observing silence in protest.

The meeting discussed the headings of budget appropriated for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM), National Planning Commission (NPC), Office of Vice President, and Office of the President under the Appropriation Bill, 2081 BS.

Most of the lawmakers expressed their dissatisfaction during the discussion on various topics of the Appropriation Bill. Not only the opposition but also ruling party lawmakers were among those who expressed their serious reservations.

The lawmakers raised issues such as excessive budgetary allocation in the electoral constituencies of some ministers, ignoring more needy areas, unfair and indiscriminate allocation of budget without assessment of resources, and inclusion of petty-amount projects in the federal budget against the basis and criteria of project classification prepared by the government itself.

Similarly, lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction over several projects being set up on the basis of power and accessibility, and budgets being distributed indiscriminately without prioritising projects.

President of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Rajendra Lingden expressed his dissatisfaction during the discussion on various headings of the Appropriation Bill in the meeting. He tore up MoPIT's annual development programme booklet for the upcoming fiscal year.

Lawmaker from main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), Dilendra Prasad Badu observed a minute's silence at the rostrum. Another lawmaker, Teju Lal Chaudhary, returned the budget Red Book to the government through the Speaker, expressing serious reservations over budgetary ignorance towards his constituency.

Likewise, lawmaker Gyan Bahadur Shahi also returned MoPIT's annual development programme booklet to the government through the Speaker, stating that Karnali region was ignored in the budget.

RPP Chair and Lawmaker Lingden alleged that MoPIT's budget allocation was not objective and that it was presented indiscriminately on instructions from the minister. He accused the ministers' council of exercising an arbitrary regime in preparing the budget and violating budget discipline. "What is the method and process for preparing a budget that does not have a single project in any district but dozens in a municipality or constituency within a district?", he questioned.
"The Minister or Prime Minister does not belong to any district or constituency but to the entire country. This has not been reflected in the budget," Lingden said.

Badu complained that the budget has not been earmarked for a road in Darchula being constructed by the Nepali Army. He also demanded an allocation of budget for road access in remote areas of Darchula. He demonstrated different modes of protest, saying that despite repeatedly raising the issue in the House for the construction of a road connecting the remote Kalapani area of Darchula, it was not being heard.

Ruling party lawmaker Shishir Khanal said the budget was against the policy of equitable distribution of resources. "The universally accepted principle of modern democracy is that people's representatives have a judicious, fair, and equitable distribution of limited resources, but in the last two years, we have been doing injustice to the citizens."
"The budget for the current fiscal year is more focused on Nuwakot, Salyan, Dadeldhura, and Gorkha, while the budget for the upcoming fiscal year has been focused on Rolpa, Dhanusha, Gorkha, and Jhapa. Isn't mobilising state resources in the constituency of a particular person, lawmaker or minister a new form of neo-feudalism?" Khanal questioned.

Claiming that the budget has been allocated on the basis of accessibility and power, another lawmaker Gokul Prasad Baskota questioned whether the budget has come to meet the targets of the 15th periodic plan or of the 16th periodic plan.

Ruling party lawmaker Sudan Kirati criticised the budget, terming it against the spirit of federalism and unbalanced. "It is sad to say that the budget has come against federalism and lost balance. Has the budget come with a plan to defame and tarnish the Prime Minister who is advocating for federalism?" he questioned.

Among other lawmakers expressing reservations about the federal budget were Leelanath Shrestha, Surya Bahadur Thapa Chhetri, Bimala Subedi, Deepak Giri, Madhab Sapkota, Chandra Bhandari, Sunita Baral, Tshiring Lyamu Lama (Tamang), Ramhari Khatiwada, Tara Lama, Mahantha Thakur, Prabhu Saha, Mahindra Roy Yadav, Rekha Yadav and Lalbir Chaudhary.

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