Budget to shift focus to reconstruction, also to cross ceiling
The government – in the next fiscal year’s budget – is going to shift its priority to reconstruction, after the devastating earthquake on April 25.
The government will have to add rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the next fiscal year’s budget, said National Planning Commission (NPC) vice chair Dr Govind Raj Pokharel.
Though, the budget for successive fiscal years sincelast couple of years have been focusing on national priority projects, the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Saturday has made the planning commission and Finance Ministry revisit their priorities for the next fiscal year’s budget, he said, adding that they will revisit the budget and shift focus on massive reconstruction. The April 25 devastating earthquake has damaged histocial and cultural world heritage sites, apart from thousands of private properties, highways and human lives.
Some of the ministries will have regular rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes as the country is vulnerable of earthquake, floods and landslides, he added.
However, the new programmes will increase the budget ceiling. The planning commission had already sent Rs 735.47 billion budget ceiling for the next fiscal year.
“The budget might cross budget ceiling of the planning commission,” said Budget Division chief Baikuntha Aryal.
Finance Ministry was planning to present an early budget – almost one month early – for the next fiscal year. But the natural disaster might push the budget to mid-July as usual.
“We need to further discuss the budget,” he said, adding that the ministry will reduce unnecessary programmes and include reconstruction programmes in the next fiscal year’s budget. “But still the budget will exceed the planning commission ceiling.”
“The domestic borrowing and foreign aid will help fund the budget, even if it exceeds the ceiling,” Aryal added.
National planning Commission is also planning fresh discussions with special focus on reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake-damaged infrastructure, including homes for the people, schools, health posts, police stations, and government buildings.
Since the priorities have been changed after the earthquakes, they have also been planning to increase capital budget for reconstruction and rehabilitation. “Buget will also be earmarked for alternative international airports and more hydropower projects,” according to the planning commission.