Foreign interference in matters of national concern is on the rise. The government remains a mute spectator to Indian encroachment and illegal construction of dams. And now an IMF delegation will arrive in two weeks to oversee the final draft of our preliminary budget. The five-member delegation will be here ostensibly to study the current status of poverty alleviation projects funded by the IMF and discuss future assistance. But independent analysts are not buying that official government statement. "This comes as an effort to establish that Nepal is incapable and incompetent to do its own planning, therefore making international intervention necessary," says an expert.
The government is in the throes of preparing an annual budget for fiscal year 2003-04. In the absence of a functioning parliament, it will promulgate the budget through an ordinance. A government official said the IMF visit was routine and the delegation may help with suggestions, but the government was not under any obligation to follow through. The official said, "The IMF's suggestions on prioritising projects shouldn't be interpreted as interference."