Sujan Dhugana, The Himalayan Times, May 29, 2019
SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEMES, CIVIL SERVANTS’ SALARIES, INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT TO GET PRIORITY
The government is preparing to present a budget of around Rs 1.6 trillion for the next fiscal year, with top priority to social security programmes and increment in the salaries of civil servants.
The government prepares the budget based on the ceiling provided by the Resource Committee, which is led by vice-chairperson of the National Planning Commission. The NPC this morning had told the government not to prepare an expenditure plan of over Rs 1.6 trillion.
The budget ceiling provided by the NPC is 23 per cent more than the budget of Rs 1.3 trillion for this fiscal. But the Ministry of Finance does not always abide by instructions of the Resource Committee of NPC and its final figure generally exceeds the ceiling.
The upcoming budget, which will be presented in the Parliament tomorrow, is expected to address some of the populist demands of members of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Politicians of NCP had previously criticised Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada for not raising elderly allowance in the current fiscal.
The upcoming budget is likely to increase elderly allowance to Rs 3,000 from Rs 2,000 at present, according to Ram Kumar Phuyal, member of NPC. With this hike, the share of total spending on social security programmes is likely to hover around 12 per cent of the annual budget.
“The budget for the next fiscal will give priority to social security-related schemes and will allocate a big chunk of fund to it,” said Phuyal, adding that the budget will also give priority to the development of modern infrastructure.
The budget is also likely to cheer up civil servants, as it is expected to propose salary hikes from 15 to 25 per cent. While the salary of special class government officers is likely to be raised by 15 per cent, salaries of non-gazetted and gazetted officers are likely to be increased by 20 and 25 per cent, respectively. “Salaries of civil servants are likely to be raised by 20 per cent on an average,” said Phuyal.
The budget for 2019-20 is expected to set economic growth target of 8.5 per cent for the fiscal year and per capita income target of $1,120. The government has revised the economic growth target to seven per cent for the ongoing fiscal, though the budget for 2018-19 had set economic growth target of eight per cent.
The government, through its policies and programmes, has already announced that 2019-20 will be the year in which pending development projects will be completed. In this sense, the budget for the upcoming fiscal year is expected to give high priority to project development, especially the construction of national pride projects.
However, the increment in budget ceiling by NPC means that the government is likely to keep adequate space for populist programmes in the budget.
“MoF had urged NPC to raise the ceiling, citing its obligation to accommodate several programmes and projects. Thus, we raised the budget ceiling accordingly,” said Pushpa Raj Kandel, vice-chairman of NPC.
Previously, NPC had fixed a budget ceiling of Rs 1,493 billion, while the ceiling was revised up to Rs 1,577 billion today.