Whew. This year’s monsoons have arrived but I do not know who to thank. Was it Pawan Putra Hanuman who brought the clouds and rain a little bit earlier this year? Was it the marriage of two frogs that some locals did in parts of Nepal, as per tradition for early rain? Or is it simply the environmental changes that are occurring all over the world that have resulted in all this?
There is an old saying that goes ‘Money is the root of all evil’. Considering that budget is all about money it is not surprising that this saying applies to it. In my old age I note that the current Finance Minister had been during the student’s movement for democracy, a sort of sparring partner with me. Decades ago when I was Dean of Institute of Medicine, he being the leader of one of the major student bodies used to gherao me on and off at times. Now as the Finance Minister of the country he is at the receiving end of not only the opposition members of the house but also from some of his own party!
That this is all a naatak is termed by me as per the statement credited to the PM that though discussions on the budget allocation are discussed it is customary never to change any of the budgetary allocations! Wow, what a statement. Have we Nepalis, been taken for a ride by all the Finance Minister’s budget that was presented and discussed in the House of Representatives. The Kantipur daily of 28th June reported that the discussions lasted for many hours over the course of 16 days. Another estimate was 79 hours. What a waste of resources when one is told that the current cost of running the House of Representatives amounts to 10 lakhs per day! Is it simply a case of the Government via Finance Minister saying ‘Mero goruko barai takka’? It is almost like an order of the Almighty! Is it Mathiko adesh?
The discussion on the budget for the coming year has been identified as having many holes:
The talk by Madesh Pradesh of restarting the Janakpur Churot Karkhana is not just foolish but irresponsible. Yes many farmers will be able to grow tobacco as a cash crop but at what cost to the health of the people? Imagine what the increase of cancer patients will cost the nation in terms of extra caretakers, cost of investigation and care of increased number of cancer patients. Instead of growing tobacco the farmer’s may be encouraged to grow sugarcane. They must not be cheated by mill owners who delay buying the cane until it dehydrates. They must also be paid realistic prices for goud &sakhar.
In this context it may be noted that Sweden now has totally forbidden public smoking and just about 5% of the population smoke. Similarly Canada has started having a different health messages on each cigarette even in a pack of ten warning people not to smoke!
Why should one discuss the budget proposals for so long if the finance minister is not prepared to make changes? One saw on TV when he replied to the House on 13 Asar (27th June at 6.00pm that there were barely a couple of dozen MPs listening to him! What a waste of country’s resources! So many essential laws could have been made or updated during the time spent on the budget.
In retrospect one can say that budget for health and education is not worth talking about. Health is a birthright. Hospitals are being built & equipment ordered for the commissions offered though no manpower is available there to utilise it. Such is planning in our country!
There is not enough for agriculture too. Everything being imported and bichauliyas are making profits at the cost of poor farmers. No wonder they are tomatoes, laukas and other vegetables on the streets. Whilst the Finance Minister claims that ‘the budget stands on ground realities’ in fact it does not do so. It does not meet the aspirations of the people at large but it is still being passed like a ramrod through the House of Representatives! However PM PKD’s final remarks stating that changes will be made in next years budget presentation is noteworthy. We can only hope and wait! The House voted for the first time and passed the budget by 147 for and 108 against. Was this majority achieved because of the lollipop of 74 aarabs to the parliamentarians?
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd