Disappointing the hard pressed Nepalese one more time, the much publicized meetings of top leaders of top three parties could not produce any positive result on formation of much-desired unity government and presentation in the legislative parliament of a consensus budget. Despite reported agreement, Maoist lawmakers did not let finance minister read the budget on the night of 19th November, forcing the caretaker government to unveil the budget, with a total outlay of around Rs 338 billion, through ordinance the next day. The budget is not very ambitious in that it has a growth target of 4.5 percent, very unlikely to be achieved, and in keeping with the past, has increased capital expenditure by 45 percent and 26 percent of the annual plan outlay is expected to be funded by external source. Increase in capital expenditure, it seems is just for mass consumption because recurrent expenditure has increased astronomically, fromRs 35 billion to Rs 160 billion during the last 10 years, while capital expenditure reached Rs 106 billion from Rs 42 billion during the same period.Further, data clearly reveal that there is huge gap between what is hoped for in the budget and its actualization. It may be noted that in the last 6 years only 86 percent, 72 percent 56 percent of publicized development expenditure, foreign grant and foreign loan, respectively, have been actualized. It should not be forgotten that when money comes into a country, it is a vote of confidence in that country. World capital is flowing into China and India because these countries have created a suitable environment for the global capital to be used in a very productive manner. They have so many things on the offer for foreign investors. What do we have except insecurity, instability and rampant corruption in this country? Therefore, even a 26 percent reliance on external source does not look realistic.Further, data available for the four months of the current fiscal year present a gloomy picture in that capital expenditure has decreased by 6.2 percent compared to the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year. Revenue that had registered an impressive growth in the previous three fiscal years has in this year grown by only 8.8, which is a clear reflection of slacking economic activities. During this period last year, revenue grew by 35 percent. In view of these realities, one can take the liberty of terming this budget unrealistic and ambitious. International donors and investors have genuine reasons to be worried.
On the corruption front, we have achieved global recognition as a corrupt nation in the last two years or so as is stated by reports of Transparency International (TI).This global coalition against corruption has placed Nepal in 146th position among 180 countries in the corruption perception index. It states in its report for the year 2010, which Prime Minister Mr. Nepal officially received couple of weeks ago, that this poorest nation in Asia, slipping 3 positions this year, is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. It has leapfrogged its Asian neighbors in recent years and will not take long, looking at the trend, to replace Somalia as the most corrupt nation (number one) in the world. Despite expectation of many that the budget will come up with measures to control unabated corruption, it has not made a mention of it. As if corruption has been accepted as a part of our life, PM is silent so are political parties and their so called top leaders. In view of the current political confusion of serious nature and leaders repeated failure to resolve it, no improvement on any front in the near future is foreseeable.Suddeen prorogation of the current session of the assembly has added further confusion and put into jeopardy the candidacy of NC's Ram Chandra Poudyal, the sole runner for the top executive post who has already lost 16 elections. These fruitless elections have become some kind of laughing stock in the society and the Supreme Court, issuing verdict on a writ petition, had directed Mr.Nembang, Speaker, to make the poll conclusive. After the verdict, which received positive as well as negative comments from different corners, some politicians and lawyers supporting NC went to the extent of suggesting that Poudyal should be declared winner as he had no contender left after Prachand's withdrawal from the race.However,nothing can be said until the next session of the assembly is called to commence business.MR. M. K. Nepal, who just returned from Russia after attending a conference on tiger there, however, does not seem too excited about calling the session as he has embarked on avoidable visits, defying criticism from all corners, to Cambodia and Belgium. He has assured the inquisitive press that he will cut short his visit if his presence is required. It would be unwise not to trust him because he did cut short his visit to Russia because his presence was required here in connection with his daughter's marriage. Some other members of cabinet as well as party top leaders are also all set to go abroad at a time when even Nepali Congress seems impatient, hope it is serious, about electing a new prime minister. Visits abroad are very essential in the present day world but in view of the crisis that Nepal is in today, commoners would want their masters to avoid junkets and concentrate on burning problems of this country.It can be argued that the CPN Maoist's plenum held at Palungtar of Gorkha ended positively in that it has given top priority to peace and constitution. Any programme of protest to be carried out in the next six months, it seems, will not be violent. Now it is up to them and other political parties to work hand in hand in the greater interest of this nation, which has deteriorated politically as well as economically. It may be recalled that Lao PDR, Bangladesh and Nepal had per capita income of us dollar 180 in 1990 .In 2009, the former two countries' per capita income reached 880 and 540, respectively, while that of Nepal remained at dollar 440.Amongst 160 economies surveyed in 2009, Nepal was found 8th lowest in the world with Burundi, at dollar 150, as the poorest country in the world. With a completely devastated external sector (balance of payment remaining negative in the last 16 months and export\import ratio at disappointing 16) and inflation at double digit in most of the last 28 months, one does not know what more is required to attract serious attention of our leaders to these problems. May be unique leaders of our unique Nepal are waiting for this country to replace Somalia as the most corrupt nation and Burundi as the poorest country in the world. Our caretakers also very well know that Iraq has just formed a new government after the inconclusive elections held some eight months ago. So let our rulers take their own sweet time.