By Pushpa Raj Pradhan
Something special was expected by the people from the budget presented by the strong government enjoying a two-thirds majority. They expected the promises made by the political leaders would be fulfilled and the general people would receive succor.
The leaders in the government had been saying that when we are exporting commodities worth six rupees to foreign nations, we are importing commodities worth 96 rupees.
It is really an alarming stage for our economic health. Therefore, the people were expecting effective measures in reducing our imports, unfortunately, the present budget brought by the revolutionary government too is based on imports.
Import of petro-products overshadows our total exports. The government should have done good homework on how the import of petro-products could be reduced. We all know that the maximum use of electricity can substitute the petro-products that the nation is importing. Every household can produce solar energy by introducing solar plants on their rooftop. During the period of economic blockade imposed by India, our leaders were talking about compulsory installation of solar plants in every house, government offices, hospitals and educational institutions among others. Along with the end of the blockade and end of load-shedding, the government has forgotten the idea of installation of such solar plants and wind turbines.
Still, it is ironic that load-shedding has been ended by importing electricity from India. The government is paying billions of rupees to India while importing electricity. By producing solar electricity from every house, we could reduce the import of electricity from India.
If the government will install specialized kits in our electricity meters, the government could receive electricity produced by households during the daytime, and more electricity could be supplied for the operation of industries.
These days, we can see vehicles being stuck in narrow roads in Kathmandu Valley. Petrol consuming two-wheelers and four wheelers have dominated our roads. If e-vehicles were introduced by replacing petrol-consuming vehicles, obviously, we could substitute the import of a large amount of petro-products. Unfortunately, the budget of the new fiscal year has encouraged the import of luxury goods and sophisticated vehicles. The reason is that the government lacks matching fund of internal resources and by imposing around two hundred to three hundred percent customs duty on vehicles, the government has managed the matching fund for the budget. If vehicles are not imported, the government cannot meet the target set from internal revenue. Revenue generated through import customs will not demonstrate the good health of the economy. Excise revenue received from local production and export duty received from them are the positive indicators of the economy. Contrary to that, we are encouraging imports of luxury things by discouraging local products.
The government, on the one hand, is talking about developing investment friendly environment, on the other hand, it has expanded the tax net by squeezing consumers.
At a time when other countries are providing subsidies on Internet, an important component for the field of information technology, the government has decided to impose VAT on it. Understandably, the government has introduced 753 local bodies, seven provinces by fixing salaries and allowances for those elected representatives. In other words, under this federal structure, the leaders have introduced the mechanism for giving employment to the political workers. To manage salaries, allowances and other facilities for those political workers, the government has been compelled to impose higher taxes on local citizens. The government has expected a collection of 34 percent revenue from the citizens, which will obviously make livelihood expensive. With taxation in every sector, it is difficult to expect foreign direct investment in the country as locals too will think seriously before investing in the country.
The budget has made many impossible claims such as bringing in two million tourists within two years. With the present capacity of the Tribhuvan Internal Airport and bad condition of roads, this seems to be an impossible target.
Also, the government has claimed it will provide employment to five hundred thousand youths. How will so many jobs come up? The budget has not given attraction for opening of new industries, farmers have not received fertilizers on in time, farmers are using traditional equipments and there lacks government commitment for introducing modern equipments for the farmers, there lacks irrigation facilities. In such a situation, how can the government give employment to five hundred youths?