All provinces present budgets, targeting economic recovery

The seven provinces on Wednesday unveiled their budgets for the next fiscal year 2022-23 starting in mid-July, focusing on reviving a struggling economy by boosting agricultural production and expanding the social safety net.

Most provinces have earmarked a large portion of their budget for infrastructure development. This is the last budget from Nepal’s first provincial governments before polls due later this year elect a new group of representatives.

The combined budgets of the seven provinces for the next fiscal year stand at 305.46 billion rupees, nearly 17% higher than the current fiscal year’s budget.

In the previous fiscal year 2019-2020, the combined provincial government budgets stood at Rs 264.20 billion which has slightly decreased to reach Rs 262 billion in the current fiscal year 2021-22 .

The value of the annual financial plan of the province of Bagmati shows the highest increase among all the provinces.

In Province 1, the Provincial Minister of Economic Affairs and Planning, Indra Bahadur Angbo presented a budget of Rs 39.73 billion to the Provincial Assembly.

The Government of Province 1 has allocated Rs 3.67 billion to the health sector, Rs 2.59 billion to the agricultural sector and Rs 6.2 billion to irrigation, river management, energy and drinking water. The province has allocated 1.13 billion rupees for the promotion of tourism.

The government intends to upgrade the Covid-19 facility at Koshi Hospital, Biratnagar to tackle outbreaks of communicable diseases in the coming days.

The largest allocation of Rs 12.41 billion in the budget is for road infrastructure and urban development.

According to Minister Angbo, Rs 5 billion has been set aside for the construction of 66 provincial highways, bridges and strategic roads. The provincial government intends to complete most of the projects in the next fiscal year.

To encourage civil servants in the province, they will receive an amount equal to one month’s salary, Angbo said.

A budget has also been allocated for programs such as increasing the production capacity of the Udayapur cement plant and upgrading the national liquor by enacting necessary laws in coordination with the federal government.

Rs 900 million has been set aside for the controversial Constituency Infrastructure Development Special Scheme. Under this program, members of the Provincial Assembly can spend the money for the development of their respective constituencies.

The Madhesh provincial government has presented a budget of Rs 46.88 billion for the next fiscal year, which is 39% higher than the budget for the current fiscal year. The provincial budget is mainly focused on promoting social equality and gender equality.

Finance Minister Shailendra Prasad Sah of Madhesh province said 25.82 billion rupees was earmarked for capital expenditure and 21.73 billion rupees for current expenditure.

The province announced the continuation of the Chief Minister’s Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao (Educate the Girls, Save the Girls) campaign as part of the social transformation and women’s empowerment agenda.

As part of the campaign, girl students in class 8 will receive money to buy bicycles. The funds will be transferred directly to their bank accounts, Sah said. Currently, the provincial government itself purchases and distributes bicycles to female students.

The budget allocated 2.74 billion rupees to the agricultural sector and 178.4 million rupees to mechanization and modernization of farms, Sah said.

For the Ministries of Industry, Tourism and Forestry, the provincial government has allocated 4.84 billion rupees. The provincial government of Madhesh has announced that it is providing money directly to the poor and people without any source of income through the “livelihoods” programme. Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated for this program, Sah said.

To increase the literacy rate of marginalized and educationally disadvantaged groups such as Chamar, Dom, Dusadh, Halkhor and Musahar, and to reduce their school dropout rate, the government announced the deposit of Rs 2,000 on their bank accounts every year as part of the Dalit education campaign.

For social development programs Madhesh Province has allocated Rs 7.80 billion. The highest amount of 18.08 billion rupees was earmarked for physical infrastructure development.

Salikram Jamarkattel, minister of economic affairs and planning of Bagmati province, where the Kathmandu valley is located, presented a budget of 70.93 billion rupees for the coming financial year, which is the highest of the seven provinces.

The budget for the next financial year has seen a significant increase from that of the current financial year which stood at Rs 57.72 billion.

While Rs 41.56 billion was earmarked for capital expenditure, Rs 19.2 billion was earmarked for recurrent expenditure in Bagmati.

The budget prioritizes physical infrastructure, health and education. A sum of 3.23 billion rupees has been allocated to the provincial Ministry of Forestry and Environment.

According to Jamarkattel, the money will be used to expand forests and for the conservation of wetlands. “About 15,000 trees will be planted in the hills in the next fiscal year,” Jamarkattel said.

While 830 million rupees have been reserved for the Ministry of Interior and Law, 650 million rupees go to the Ministry of Industry. A sum of Rs136.5 million will be made available for the construction of industrial zones in Manahari of Makawanpur and Hariharpurgadhi of Sindhuli.

The “one service, one health clinic” program received funding of Rs 182.7 million. 30 million rupees have been pledged for Ayurvedic medicine production center in Ratnanagar.

Gandaki Province Finance Minister Ramji Prasad Baral (Jeevan) presented a budget of 35.90 billion rupees for the next fiscal year, 20% more than the current fiscal year.

Out of the total budget, 22.14 billion rupees was earmarked for capital expenditure and 13.26 billion rupees for current expenditure.

Baral says the budget for the next fiscal year is focused on increasing agricultural and livestock production. The budget will announce the minimum support price for agricultural products and transportation will be provided to bring agricultural products from remote areas to cities, he said.

The province of Gandaki has set aside 175 million rupees to promote apple cultivation in the mountainous regions. The budget announced the promotion of electric vehicles (EV) and the establishment of charging stations.

Lumbini province has unveiled a budget of 42.63 billion rupees, prioritizing agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development.

Of the total budget, 24.47 billion rupees is for capital expenditure and 13.32 billion rupees for recurrent expenditure, according to Krishnadhwaj Khadka, the provincial minister for economic affairs and cooperatives.

A sum of 1.69 billion rupees has been allocated for provincial pride projects.

According to Minister Khadka, some new programs have been introduced in agriculture, health and social development sectors in addition to infrastructure development.

Karnali Province has announced a budget of Rs 32.61 billion for the next financial year. Of the total expenditure, 9.16 billion rupees was earmarked for recurrent expenditure and 19.43 billion rupee for capital expenditure.

The province has been emphasizing physical infrastructure, Karnali Provincial Economic Affairs and Planning Minister Bindaman Bista said.

The province announced the implementation of the Road Act to prevent accidents by building quality roads. The province has allocated 10.92 billion rupees for physical infrastructure and urban development.

The province announced the launch of its “one house, one tap” campaign to provide drinking water to the population. The provincial government has announced the construction of a trauma center in Rakam of Dailekh to provide immediate treatment to the population.

The province is vulnerable to road accidents that kill hundreds of people each year. The budget allocated funds to airlift pregnant women and to provide rapid treatment for those suffering from emergency illnesses in remote areas.

In order to herald a fully literate province, the government has allocated 336 million rupees. Under this program, the infrastructure development program “one local unit, one community school” will be launched.

Sudurpaschim province has announced a budget of Rs 36.74 billion for the coming financial year. According to the provincial Minister of Economic Affairs Prakash Rawal, an amount of 12.29 billion rupees has been allocated for recurrent expenditure and 24.14 billion rupees for capital expenditure.

The province has launched a campaign called “Agricultural Self-Sufficiency: Provincial Prosperity” to make the province prosperous through agriculture by increasing production and productivity.

The budget allocated 250 million rupees for the chief minister’s agricultural programme.

A sum of 1.67 billion rupees has been allocated for the construction of drinking water infrastructure, 750 million rupees for irrigation and agricultural mechanization and 190 million rupees for integrated establishments for disadvantaged communities.

The province has set aside 5.60 billion rupees for road infrastructure, 1.62 billion rupees for improving health services and 1.23 billion rupees for the education sector.