MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
Staff members of the finance ministry missed out on the Dasain fun this year. "We were busy preparing the budget as per the direction of the prime minister," senior economic advisor to the ministry Keshab Acharya said. The ministry was closed only a day before Tika. "The finance minister, secretaries and all staff members have been toiling hard," Acharya said. "An eight-month budget will be presented soon."
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had directed the ministry to present the budget by 26 October, fearing an economic collapse. He also held consultations with leaders of political parties, ex-ministers and businessmen, asking them to cooperate. Although all preparations had been made, only one third of the budget could be passed last July owing to Maoist obstruction.
Acharya said that if the budget was not passed soon, the country's economy will come tumbling down. "After a month, the government will not be able to support its employees, Maoist combatants or even emergency services like hospitals," he said.
Meanwhile the Maoists have not budged from their stance on the budget. Maoist leader Dev Gurung has warned that any attempt by the government to pass the budget would be considered a violation of the comprehensive peace accord.
Chairman of the Nepal Chamber of Commerce Surendra Bir Malakar, however, has warned of a nationwide agitation by the business community if the budget is not presented next week. "We will now take to the streets to make way for the budget," he said.