PM, FM not in mood to allocate Rs 100m to lawmakers

Kathmandu, May 15:  Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli and Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada are not in mood to allocate budget to the federal lawmakers who are demanding Rs 100 million under the constituency development program.

The lawmakers even met PM Oli on Monday to lobby for that and have been putting Minister Khatiwada under pressure but the two look unlikely to relent.

Speaking in both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the National Assembly on Monday, Khatiwada stated that additional discussions are necessary for the program hinting that the demand cannot be met.

“There is no denying the fact that the lawmakers also should have a role in development and budget preparation,” Khatiwada said. “We are in the system wherein taxes are determined on the basis of representative provision, and allocating the same taxes. We have heard what the lawmakers are saying. We must move forward with additional discussions on that.”

He also asked the lawmakers what the current priority is. “Is it the constitutional fundamental rights or sector-wise priorities?” he asked.

Speaking in the National Assembly he reminded the lawmakers that there are currently 761 governments in the country. “The rights have to be delegated to the provinces and local level. The rights to revenues also will go. We cannot get stuck on petty projects at the center,” Khatiwada said at the National Assembly.

A few lawmakers speaking from the rostrum suggested Minister Khatiwada to not come under pressure while formulating the budget. But Khatiwada indirectly stated he has come under pressure from the lawmakers themselves. “A few lawmakers have stated there should be no pressure. But pressure has been created in many ways. We all know that,” he said.

Presenting the principles and priorities of the budget in the House, he stated financial federalism will be implemented, and budget will not be allocated to small projects in any manner.

Many lawmakers understand that Minister Khatiwada has also convinced PM Oli on not allocating Rs 100 million to each directly elected lawmaker.

“Finance Minister Khatiwada feels that money should not be distributed to lawmakers. His comments show he has already convinced PM Oli,” CPN-UML lawmaker Ravibir Manandhar, who has been demanding Rs 100 million, told Setopati.

The lawmakers are still lobbying for Rs 100 million despite receiving red signal from the PM and finance minister.

They are defending their demand as a wish to be connected to development. They argue that the amount should be increased as the constituencies are also bigger than the last time.

Lawmakers of ruling UML and CPN (Maoist Center) are at the forefront of the campaign for Rs 100 million. They have been regularly meeting Finance Minister Khatiwada to put pressure. They have been telling so even in the canteen of the parliament.

Khatiwada has already told provincial chief ministers that he will not allocate budget for federal lawmakers. “Finance Minister Khatiwada during discussion with us has said it is absolutely wrong to give budget to lawmakers and stated he will not allocate budget for them. But I feel he is under pressure,” CM of Province 3 Dor Mani Paudel said.

UML lawmaker Manandhar argued that the party will be finished if the budget for constituency were slashed. Accusing Finance Minister Khatiwada of being influenced to finish the communists he even warned of agitation. “Finance minister may be well-read. He has read job. But we have read the country. We have read agitation,” he stated

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