Former Finance Minister Bhattarai dubs budget as old rhetoric

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Kathmandu - Former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has said same matters have been repeated in the annual budget since long and the same rhetoric is reflected in the federal budget unveiled on Thursday for the upcoming fiscal year. Taking part in a virtual discussion organised by the Society of Economic Journalists Nepal (SEJON) today, the former Finance Minister said the new budget failed to focus on thwarting the impact of COVID-19 crisis.

Though the state was expected to take note of the issues of education, health and social security, no concrete and substantive programmes came to that end. ''The budget again came in a conservative way,'' he said, adding it could not meet the expectations for quality changes and newness. As he assessed, the annual estimations of income and expenditure was neither oriented towards socialism nor towards marketisation. It seemed it was at the crossroad, instead.

Bhattarai who was also the leader of Federal Socialist Party was of the view of increasing investment in agriculture which he said was not given attention in the budget. ''Time demands more focus on health, education, employment and relief efforts but this did not happen.'' As he said, railway and motorway were not important issues at the moment. The leader expressed his concern over no 'effort' in the budget to bring about foreign investment by giving much priority to the development of small, middle-scale and big industries and checking the 'misuse' of foreign loan.

He took time to vent ire at no progress for taking the 1200-megawatt Budhigandaki, the project of national pride, into the implementation phase. The project has come under the grip of personal interests of a certain group of people, raising doubt over its construction, according to him.

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National News Agency, Nepal

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