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Record spending

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s government has set a record by being the biggest spender since the country adopted the multi-party democracy. According to Kantipur, Nepal’s 43-member cabinet has already blown off its annual budget.

Last year, the prime minister and cabinet members’ staff did not even spend Rs 20 million set aside for them. This year, the government is expected to spend twice the allocated amount of Rs 29 million.

Not only is the cabinet big, the teams of the cabinet members have expanded as well. Only the prime minister and information minister used to hire a press advisor before. Now, almost all ministers have such advisors.

The prime minister and his ministers have also set a new record in taking trips. The cabinet spent the allocated amount of Rs 60 million for overseas trips in just six months. It has also already spent the additional Rs 20 million released since.

The Finance Ministry has refused to foot a Rs 20 million bill for the use of helicopter by the Home Ministry saying it does not understand why the helicopters were hired in more than half of the reported instances.

All this will be good fodder for the opposition party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who has asked for the special session in the parliament. Republica writes:

Amidst reports of Maoist preparations for a no-confidence motion against the government, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday made it clear that his party wanted a special session of parliament to discuss corruption, killings and terrorism but not to change the government.

Dahal’s clarification-like remark came amidst the Maoist drive to collect the signatures of its lawmakers to demand the special session of parliament. The Maoist move has been interpreted as being aimed at toppling the incumbent coalition government to which the UCPN-M has not been reconciled ever since it came to power last May.

And, a new development in the bickering between the government and the Maoist Party over the integration of Maoist combatants. While the government remains adamant that the integration process will not start until it gets an exact count of the combatants, Maoist leader Dahal has said the combatants themselves need to be consulted in the matter. Nagarik reports:

Dahal has said the combatants need to be asked about how many of them should be integrated. “We need to ask them about where they want to go,” Dahal said at a press conference in Nepalgunj. He said some could be integrated into the army, some into the police force while others could go home and some could pursue studies.

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