Although the parties have still not decided on a new government, the Ministry of Finance has started working on the first budget for the new republic. The ministry has received the necessary papers from all other ministries and is currently in discussion with the respective parties.
According to a source in the Ministry: "Even if the government is late in getting the budget approved in the parliament, the budget will be out by 10 July." 90 percent of the programs in the budget will be according to the old projects and as directed by the interim plan while 10 percent of the programs will be decided by the party that leads the government.
According to the source, the total budget is yet to be decided but is expected to be around Rs 187 billion. The budget makers are busy trimming down the expenses for development and administration. However, the ministry is facing difficulties in deciding on policies that the government does not need to invest in due to the absence of a new government.
After the announcement of a republic, the income received by the king and the royal family has been completely cut back. In the last fiscal year, of the Rs 130 million allocated for the royal family, Rs 25 million was spent. However, the budget will allocate money for the employees of the palace, and for the repair and protection of the palace.
The source said the ministries led by the Maoists have asked for enormous amounts of money despite the obvious lack of any new programs. For example, the Ministry for Local Development led by Dev Gurung has asked for Rs 16 billion but the officers of the Ministry have concluded that Rs 12 billion will be sufficient. The Ministry for Planning and Works has also asked for a huge amount but the Ministry of Finance is expected to increase the amount so as to finance the extension of roads.
There is widespread anticipation about who will lead the Ministry of Finance. Although the Maoists have claimed that they will head the ministry, they have not been able to put forward a single capable candidate for such a sensitive job. While Baburam Bhattarai might be the next finance minister, it will look like a compromise for the Maoist second-in-command who has his eyes set on the presidency or the post of prime minister. In such a situation Ram Sharan Mahat, who has led the ministry before, might turn out to be the best option.