--BY MADAN LAMSAL
The economy was expected to rise after the formation of the new government. But sadly, that's not going to happen. The previous government had said the economic growth rate would be seven percent this year. But the new government says it won't be more than six percent. This came from the lips of the finance minister himself during the mid-term review of the budget recently. What a thing to hear! The new government's finance minister who supposedly understands our economy was supposed to increase the growth rate but instead he said it will go down.
According to the finance minister, government projects which do not start by mid-March won't get funds now onwards. People had already made plans to begin the work in mid-June and complete it by mid-July. But the finance minister has ruined this plan. This is also against the Nepali tradition. The Nepali tradition has been to start the projects in mid-June and finish them by mid-July and make and take the payment without losing time. And then relax for the remaining 10 months. What fun it was!
Similarly, the finance minister has said he will bring the money needed to develop the country from abroad. He has become the finance minister from a nationalist party. Yet he talks about bringing money from foreign countries. Something is not right about this. Moreover, he has said that he will bring in the money parked outside. What does the finance minister mean by 'money parked outside'? Does he mean the wealth hidden underground by the Chudamanis in their parking lots outside their houses or in their water tanks? Or is he referring to the cash kept in foreign lands by the Chaudharys, Pandeys and Sumargis? It would be great if the finance minister made it clear.
Nonetheless, the finance minister has already instructed the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to bring home the money, if any, deposited by Nepali banks in foreign banks. Perhaps to collect this money or for some other purpose, the NRB Governor along with his better half had paid a visit to Britain a few weeks ago. Is the finance minister hinting at this?
Similarly, the finance minister has said that shops on King's Way won't be raided from now onwards but the 'source' will be cleaned instead. By mentioning 'source', is the finance minister referring to rivers? In other words, is he trying to say that if anyone has 'parked' money in the rivers, then the government will bring that back, because many leaders who fought for the emancipation of the proletariat in the past have become the promoters of large hydropower projects today? Is the finance minister hinting at such people in a roundabout way as he cannot name them directly?
And that’s not all. While presenting the mid-term review, the finance minister also talked about tightening the nuts and bolts of the state machinery. It's not clear what the finance minister exactly means by this. Perhaps he means that the taxpayers who have been honestly paying taxes will be further squeezed to cough up more taxes. This has been the tradition as well. Plus, while talking about tightening the nuts and bolts of the state machinery, the finance minister said, "We will exceed the revenue target." Let's see how he does that!
On the other hand, apparently, the government is going to review the social security allowances being provided to the people. Just at a time when the Nepali people had started receiving cash it seems that, too, will be stopped now.
Whatever, but all the things mentioned above were included in the mid-term review or the 'black paper' because they were printed in black letters. Now it is said the finance minister will issue a white paper! It is not known yet what things will be included in it and how. As the name suggests, let's hope it will be neat and clean and white or good. Being a leftist finance minister, he should have introduced a 'red paper'. But a white paper is what will come. But the true picture of the country's economy would be reflected in a 'grey paper'. Because they say that more than half the country's economy is grey. So, perhaps, we need some reviews, some plans for more than half the country's economy, Mr Finance Minister, perhaps?