07/15/2015, 00.00
Send to a friend

2016 budget allocates funds for more homes, but less for education

by Christopher Sharma
The authorities have allocated a total of 7.3 billion euro. Most resources will be used to rebuild the country after the April 25 earthquake. The funds for education barely reach 20% of the budget, as the government had promised. Private sector favored as are funds for the federal organization of the State as laid down by new Constitution.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The government of Kathmandu last night presented the national budget for the fiscal year 2016. A total of 819 billion Nepalese rupees (about 7.3 billion euro), the largest budget in the history of Nepal will be allocated. Most resources will be used for reconstruction and resettlement projects, development of infrastructure and regional budgets. Less attention however, has been given to educational projects.

After the massive earthquake that hit the country on April 25 last year that caused more than 8,700 confirmed dead and 17 thousand injured, the authorities have decided to allocate most of the funds for reconstruction. The 91 billion Nepalese rupees (about 814 million euro) provided for this purpose will come from the National Reconstruction Fund (74 billion rupees) - which operates within the National Authority for reconstruction - and other funding mechanisms (another 17 billion rupees).

A fund to rebuild the World Heritage sites damaged by the quake was also proposed, alongside a fund for the economic recovery of the Nepal Rastra Bank (the Central Bank) that will finance building homes  for displaced persons. According Minister of Finance, Ramsharan Mahat these resources will help bring growth to 6% in 2016. Other experts however, argue that the rate of economic growth will not exceed 4%.

The novelty of the budget document is that the government has allocated funds to maintain the balance of regional budgets. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, told AsiaNews: "For decades, a budget that accounted for the fiscal situation of the regions was never presented. This is something new for Nepal ". The other side of the coin, he says, "is that the budget ignores the importance of education, allocating the lowest percentage of resources over the last decade. The authorities have not recognized the value of education for development".

The education sector is one of the hardest hit by earthquake. which forced thousands of children not to attend school for more than a month. Rameshwor Khanal, former Finance Secretary, says: "The education sector should not be underestimated. If we fall on education, we will not get anywhere. " Education was allocated 98.64 billion Nepali rupees (about 878 million euro), ie 12.03% of the total budget.

Over the past five years the amount of resources has been reduced significantly: in 2015 the sector received 13.92% of the resources, in fiscal 2011-2012 17.1%. In fact the government in various official ceremonies said that would guarantee 20% of the budget to education, as is the case at the international level. "This is not a good sign - notes education expert Bidhya Nath Koirala,. However, more than the budget, we need to increase the sense of responsibility among teachers and administrators”.

According to experts, the document seems to favor the private sector. Tax and VAT revenues reached 5 million rupees (about 45 thousand euro), compared with 2 million in the previous year (17,900 euro). The authorities have decided not to impose additional taxes on consumption, although they are in need of more resources for reconstruction.

Moreover, since the country has a federal division based on the draft of the new Constitution, approved in recent weeks after eight years of parliamentary struggles, the government in Kathmandu has allocated funds to prepare a detailed analysis on provincial roads. They were offered incentives for the merger of the Village Development Committee, although some believe that the authorities would have to wait until the final federal organization of the state.

Finally, experts have doubts about the government's ability to spend all the resources allocated. Khanal warns: "If the government was struggling to use previously allocated 600 billion each year, now that resources exceed 800 billion rupees it will be an uphill struggle to use them all."

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Church leads the way in helping Vietnam cope with its educational emergency
11/03/2016 17:00
Indian Catholics on 2018 budget: positive steps for the poor and Dalits
02/02/2018 11:50
Teachers’ strike jeopardising students’ future
Maoist “truce” allows government to adopt budget and avoid insolvency
Maoist war against President Yadav continues


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”