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भारतीय बजेटको तरंग

डा. हेमन्त दवाडी

भारतका वित्तमन्त्री अरुण जेट्लीले आर्थिक वर्ष २०१७/१८ को वार्षिक बजेट भारतीय संसद्मा प्रस्तुत गरेका छन्। सवा सय करोड जनसंख्या भएको र विश्वअर्थतन्त्रमा ‘ब्राइट स्पट’का रूपमा चित्रण गरिने मुलुकको बजेटप्रति अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय चासो हुनु स्वाभाविक हो। अझ नेपालजस्तो भारतसँग खुला सिमाना रहेको र आफ्नो दुईतिहाइ अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय व्यापारसमेत उसैसँग हुने मुलुकका लागि त त्यहाँको बजेट महत्वको विषय हुने नै भयो।

भारतीय बजेटले भारतमा आयात हुने वस्तुमा लाग्ने महसुल र भारतमा उत्पादन हुने वस्तु र सेवामा लाग्ने शुल्कमा खासै परिवर्तन नगरेबाट नेपालमा ती वस्तुको मूल्यमा तत्काल असर नपर्ने देखिन्छ। अप्रत्यक्ष करमा भएका सबै परिवर्तन अझै पनि उपलब्ध भइनसकेकाले तिनको विस्तृत लेखाजोखा हुन केही समय लाग्नेछ।

भारतका वित्तमन्त्रीले त्यहाँको सरकारको बजेट एजेन्डालाई रूपान्तरण, सशक्तिकरण र निर्मलीकरणका रूपमा चित्रण गरेका छन्। यसले नेपाललाई पनि आफ्नो अर्थतन्त्रलाई पारदर्शी एवं उद्यमशीलतामुखी बनाउन अभिप्रेरित गर्ने सम्भावना छ।

पाँच सय र हजार रुपैयाँका पुराना भारतीय नोटको ‘नोटबन्दी’पछि आमभारतीयले भोग्नुपरेको कष्टलाई दृष्टिगत गरेर तिनलाई खुसी पार्नेखालको ‘पपुलिस्ट’ बजेट आउने अपेक्षा धेरै भारतीय विश्लेषकको थियो। तर, अपेक्षाविपरीत पुँजीगत खर्चमा बढोत्तरी गरी सरकारले दिने अनुदानमा खासै परिवर्तन नहुनुले भारतीय बजेटलाई ‘पपुलिस्ट’ मान्न मिल्दैन। बजेट वक्तव्यपश्चात् भारतीय पुँजीबजारको मापक मानिने बम्बे स्टक एक्सचेन्जको सेन्सिटिभ इन्डेक्समा झण्डै ५०० अंकको (करिब १.५ प्रतिशत) वृद्धि हुनुले उद्योग व्यापार क्षेत्रले भारत सरकारको बजेटलाई सकारात्मक रूपमा लिएको पुष्टि गर्छ। भारतका कतिपय स्वतन्त्र अर्थशास्त्रीले बजेटको स्वागत गरेका छन्। भलै चरम राजनीतिक विभाजन भएको अवस्थामा केही प्रमुख राज्यको आमनिर्वाचनको पूर्वसन्ध्यामा ल्याइएको बजेटलाई विरोधी दलहरूले नकारात्मक चित्रण गरेका छन्।

यस  बजेटको प्रमुख विशेषता पुँजीगत क्षेत्रमा बढेका विनियोजन नै हुन्। ग्रामीण क्षेत्रमा गरिने पुँजीगत लगानीमा २४ प्रतिशतको वृद्धि गरिएको छ। यसले ग्रामीण भारतको पूर्वाधारमा ठूलो परिवर्तन ल्याउने र भारतीय कृषि अर्थतन्त्रमा सकारात्मक असर पर्ने अपेक्षा गर्न सकिन्छ।

भारतीय बजेटले त्यहाँका साना व्यक्तिगत आयकरदाता र सानो कारोबार गर्ने कम्पनीको आयकरमा कमी गरेको छ। अब भारु २.५ लाखदेखि ५ लाखसम्म आय रहेका व्यक्तिले १० प्रतिशतको सट्टा ५ प्रतिशतमात्र कर तिर्नुपर्ने भएको छ। त्यस्तै, भारु ५० करोडसम्मको कारोबार गर्ने कम्पनीले ३० प्रतिशतको सट्टा २५ प्रतिशतका दरले मात्र संस्थागत आयकर तिर्नुपर्नेछ। साथै, कर तिर्ने सबै व्यक्तिको कर दायित्वमा १२,५०० ले कमी आउने भएको छ। भारतले लिएको यस कदमबाट नेपालमा पनि साना करदातालाई लाग्ने करको भार कम गर्न दबाब बढ्ने निश्चित छ।

भारतीय बजेटमा भुक्तानीको विद्युतीय माध्यमको प्रयोग बढाउन र मुलुकको अर्थतन्त्रलाई पारदर्शी बनाउन धेरै पहल घोषणा भएका छन्। भारतीय अर्थतन्त्र ‘क्यासलेस’ हुँदै जाँदा उद्योग एवं उत्पादनहरू थप प्रतिस्पर्धी बन्ने निश्चित छ। यसले भारततर्फ हुने नेपाली निर्यातमा थप दबाब पर्नेछ र नेपालमा भारतबाट हुने आयात बढ्नेछ। साथै, अर्थतन्त्रमा नगदको प्रयोग घटेमा कर छल्ने प्रवृत्तिमा कमी आउने र अनौपचारिकको सट्टा औपचारिक अर्थतन्त्रले टेवा पाउने देखिन्छ। बजेट वक्तव्यमा भारतीय वित्तमन्त्रीले राजनीतिक दलहरूलाई दिइने चन्दा सम्बन्धी नियममा व्यापक परिवर्तनको प्रस्ताव गरेका छन्। अहिलेसम्म २०,००० सम्मको चन्दा नगदमा स्रोत नखुलाइ लिन पाइने अवस्था रहेकोमा अबउप्रान्त २,००० सम्ममात्र स्रोत नखुलेको चन्दा लिन पाइने भएको छ। साथै, राजनीतिक दलले मात्र भुक्तानी लिन मिल्ने चुनावी ऋणपत्र(इलेक्टोरल बन्ड) को प्रस्ताव बजेटमा छ।

अपारदर्शी अर्थतन्त्र(ब्ल्याक इकोनोमी) बढ्नुमा राजनीतिक दलको अपारदर्शी वित्तव्यवस्थालाई नै प्रमुख कारकको रूपमा लिने गरिन्छ। राजनीतिक दललाई दिइने अपारदर्शी चन्दाले भ्रष्टाचार एवं आर्थिक विकृतिलाई टेवा दिने गर्छ। नेपालमा पनि राजनीतिक दलहरूको आय–व्ययमा ठूलो अपारदर्शिता रहँदै आएको छ। के हाम्रा राजनीतिक दलले अबउप्रान्त सबै चन्दा पारदर्शी रूपमा चेकमार्फत् लिन पहल गर्लान्? र, हाम्रा अर्थमन्त्रीले बैंकमार्फत् मात्र दलहरूलाई चन्दा दिन पाइने र राजनीतिक दलले आफ्नो आयको विवरण आयकर प्रशासनलाई दिनुपर्ने बाध्यकारी व्यवस्था लागु गर्ने साहस गर्लान्? यो हामी सबैका लागि चासो र चाखको विषय हो।

भारतीय बजेटमा वैदेशिक लगानीको क्षेत्रमा ठूलो प्रक्रियागत परिवर्तनको घोषणा भएको छ। हालसम्म भारतमा कतिपय क्षेत्रमा स्वचालित माध्यम(अटोमेटिक रुट) बाट र अन्य क्षेत्रमा सरकारको वैदेशिक लगानी प्रवर्द्धन बोर्डको पूर्वअनुमति लिएपछि मात्र वैदेशिक लगानी गर्न पाइने व्यवस्था थियो। वित्तमन्त्रीले वैदेशिक लगानी प्रवर्द्धन बोर्डको अन्त्य गरी सबै वैदेशिक लगानी स्वचालित माध्यमबाट परिचालन गर्ने प्रस्ताव गरेका छन्। नेपालमा पनि कतिपय वैदेशिक लगानीका निम्ति उद्योग तथा लगानी प्रवर्द्धन बोर्डको पूर्वअनुमति लिनुपर्ने व्यवस्था छ। पूर्वअनुमतिका लागि बोर्डमा प्रस्ताव लगिरहनु नपर्ने व्यवस्था गरिएमा वैदेशिक लगानीको वातावरणमा केही सुधार हुन सक्ने थियो।

भारतका वित्तमन्त्रीले त्यहाँको सरकारको बजेट एजेन्डालाई रूपान्तरण, सशक्तिकरण र निर्मलीकरणका रूपमा चित्रण गरेका छन्। यसले नेपाललाई पनि आफ्नो अर्थतन्त्रलाई पारदर्शी एवं उद्यमशीलतामुखी बनाउन अभिप्रेरित गर्ने सम्भावना छ। नेपालमा नियन्त्रणमुखी विचारधाराको बाहुल्य रहेको परिप्रेक्ष्यमा बजेटमार्फत् भारतीय अर्थतन्त्रमा आउने आर्थिक परिवर्तनबाट नेपाली अर्थतन्त्र अझै पछि पर्ने सम्भावना बढेको छ। व्यक्तिव्यक्तिमा रहेको उद्यमशीलताको उपयोग गर्दै प्रतिस्पर्धी अर्थतन्त्रको निर्माणको विकल्प नरहेको सन्देश भारतीय बजेटले दिएको छ।

Hemant Dabadi

About Hemant Dabadi

Dr. Dabadi is a Senior Fellow at Samriddhi Foundation.

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Violation of the Property Rights by the Budget

Property rights as defined by James D. Gwartney – Florida State University, Richard L. Stroup – Montana State University, Dwight Lee – University of Georgia in the article ‘Importance of Private Property’ involves ensuring three important criteria: 1. the right to exclusive use, 2. legal protection against invaders those who would seek to use or abuse the property without the owner’s permission, and 3. the right to transfer to (that is, exchange with) another. If the owner is barred from exercising any one all of these aspects, it is the violation of the property rights.

The state has the primary responsibility of warranting all these criteria to the citizens and thus, protecting their property rights. However, what if the one that is supposed to protect the right of the citizen is itself involved in the violation. Here, the context directly relates to provision in the recently formulated budget of Nepal. In the section related to Land Reform, the budget specifies that all the lands will be classified on the basis of their use and the land classified for the specified purpose shall not be used for other purposes. Additionally, the budget has also provisioned that no agricultural land should be left barren. In case it is left barren, there is the provision of imposing penalty of 25 percent of the potential average production of such barren land.

This budget is unswervingly trying to infringe on the property rights of the citizens. After the implementation of the budget, no citizens will have liberty to use their piece of land as according to their preferences. The use of land will be directed by the state itself. This directly bars the citizens from enjoying the very first criterion, the right to exclusive use of the property (land in this case). Furthermore, as the provision limits the use of land, market value of the land will get reduced. For example, if a piece of land can be used for multiple purposes like making residential house, commercial building, cultivation etc., its market price will be high because of high demand from multiple sector. But, if its use is only restricted to, say agriculture, there will be reduction in the demand, which reduces it market price, thus adversely affecting the land owners and their property rights.

Ashesh Shrestha

About Ashesh Shrestha

Ashesh Shrestha is an independent researcher. He has an Economics background and is interested in Monetary economics and Public finance.

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Budget and the Transportation Sector – Promising yet Incomplete

The budget allocated for the development of transportation sector for the upcoming fiscal year is Rs 24 billion (approx.). This year’s ambitious budget plans for building fast tracks, highways, and even foresees Nepal using trains and ships. Although the budget might look like the government has acknowledged that travelling in Nepal (both public and private) is arduous and inconvenient, it does not solve the major problem in transportation sector of Nepal – syndicate.

It is an open secret that the transport association practically controls the entire transport system in Nepal. It decides who gets into the industry and who doesn’t; it lobbies on price setting, among others. The budget envisages a country full of excellent roads with the aim of facilitating cheap and easy transportation of goods and people, but if the budget cannot (followed by pro-competitive policies) limit this anti-competitive practice by the syndicate these policies might not be efficacious.

In addition to this, one of the provisions (i.e. No. 85) of the budget mandates all taxis plying in Kathmandu valley to be equipped with a digital meter system. Although this looks propitious, the government’s inefficient monitoring system would make existing day light robbing perennial. Even with the existing meters in taxis, taxi drivers, on their discretion, decide the price before taking in passengers. But, due to the limited number of taxis plying in the valley, passengers have no choice but to agree on the rate drivers set. Although, one might argue that even passengers could bargain on the price but, how convenient is it if you commute on taxis everyday? When the number of passengers is far more than number of plying taxis, the drivers would always have better bargaining power.

So how can the government achieve its intended result of smooth and cost effective transportation system? One way of achieving its goals is by encouraging competition in this sector. To make it competitive, there are several provisions the government could make. The most important is by facilitating entry of new public vehicles by limiting syndicate’s influence in the registration process. From 2001 to 2011, the number of registered vehicles in Kathmandu valley increased 3.75 times. But public transportation comprises of only 1% of those vehicles. This shows there is a barrier that stems entry into the transportation industry. Similarly, with regards to taxis, since the year 2000, the number of taxis has dropped from 8000 to 5500, while the population of Kathmandu valley has risen from 1.6 Million to 3.5 million from 2001 to 2011. Opening up new taxi registration (it was closed in 2000; once opened in 2015) would reduce the ratio of taxis to population, which would instead increase passengers bargaining power, as now taxis’ would compete for passengers not the other way around.

Although the government has prepared and allocated budget for transportation sector development in good faith, it still doesn’t address Nepal’s major problem of anti-competitive behavior in transportation sector. Policies such as limiting syndicate’s influence in public vehicle registration, and opening up taxi registration are two of the several ways that government’s policies could engender competition.

 

Abyaya Neopane

About Abyaya Neopane

Abyaya Neopane is an independent researcher. He comes from an Economics background.

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The Elusive Quest for Accelerated Growth and Prosperity

The Finance minister of the Government of Nepal presented a national budget of Rs.819 billion for the Fiscal year 2015/16 in the national legislature on 14th July.  The government expenditure allocation has increased by a whopping 60 % compared to last year’s revised estimates. Allocation for capital expenditure has increased from Rs.86 billion (current years revised estimate) to 209 billion.   As the massive quake has led to the serious loss of property and requirement of massive rebuilding efforts, big increase in capital expenditure allocation was expected. The Finance minister has allocated Rs.91 billion for reconstruction, a significant proportion of which is going as subsidy/support to homeowners for reconstruction of their dwellings destroyed by the quake. The budget also envisages a substantial growth in foreign grant from Rs.38 billion to Rs.110 billion. Probably, the Minister is confident that the support pledged in the recent International Conference on Nepal Reconstruction 2015 (Donor’s Meet) will be translated into reality and foreign grant will climb north as a result of the increased sympathy towards Nepal and her people in the aftermath of the quake.  However, it is worth noting that Nepal has a record of grossly missing the target in capital expenditure as well as foreign grant receipt. For example, in last year’s budget speech, the same Finance Minister had targeted to garner Rs.73 billion as grants and spend Rs.116 billion as capital expenditure. The revised estimate put in this year’s budget speech under these headings is a mere Rs.38 billion (under achievement by almost 50% ) and Rs.87 billion (underperformance by about 25%). So the biggest challenge for the government will be to meet the set targets. This concerns not only these headings but also other headings including the revenue targets.

The budget has put up ambitious targets like completing the reconstruction works (effects of the massive earthquake) within the next five years, linking all constituencies by an all-weather black topped road within the next two years, or linking all Village Development Committees by a motor-able road, providing irrigation facilities to the entire cultivable land of the country within next 5 years etc.  These declarations sound great while listening, but meeting these targets pose a real challenge. We have a history of high-sounding targets and declarations and meager performances. One can only wish, same will not be the case with this year’s budget.

Budget speech is not merely a statement of anticipated income and expenses of the government. Budget speech is also used to make policy announcements and indicate the direction of the government in running an economy. The private sector operators keenly await budget as it indicates where the money of the largest spender is going to go. The sector wise allocations are along expected lines with education, health, transportation, electricity, and agriculture commanding lion’s share of the government budget spending. Following the earthquake, there were high expectations from the citizens towards the Government. Unfortunately, the budget lacks innovative ideas on moving the economy forward. Similar programs (questionable as to their achievements) have been continued in this year’s budget as well.

The best thing about the budget speech this year is that the Government has left the tax rates more or less untouched. On the eve of the budget, fears were being expressed regarding a rise in tax rates, as the government needed money to finance the reconstruction process. By avoiding meddling with the tax rates the Government has given some sort of stability on the policy side. By accepting the fact that the government alone cannot carry out all reconstruction, and there is need of rehabilitation businesses in the quake-affected areas, the Government has indicated that there is space for the private sector in running the economy. Many private operators would take solace from such development especially because it has come after the recent constitution draft, which seems to be oriented towards creating barriers on the path of the private sector.

The small traders and businessmen in the districts may be happy that after more than one and half decade the Government has raised the threshold limit for compulsory VAT registration and compliance requirement.

The budget mentions concepts like green cities, putting up of smart cities, ensuring cleanliness and hygiene through construction of toilets and sewages, agricultural extension services in all VDCs, and at least one doctor in every VDC. There are also declarations of legislative changes.  The issue is whether these declarations will turn into reality. Past performance of the same government does not give us the  required confidence!

This year’s budget envisages significant increase in the borrowings by the government. Till now our public debt has been at affordable limit. Our debt as percentage of the GDP is below that of most of the developing world. The economists by and large have been telling that there is space to increase the debt. Let us hope finance ministers from next year onwards will not take the debt route as the means of financing their fancy programs.  The Greek crisis should pose us a warning on ‘what would be the result of living beyond your own means’

The budget speech has generated a mixed reaction from the political as well as the professional class.  The biggest critics so far are not the people from the opposition party, but from the coalition partners.  You do not need opposition when your allies are saying that they won’t allow a smooth sailing to this year’s budget. This only strengthens the opinion that something is wrong in our system, and the budget as it is, may not get the green signal from our legislature.

The test of this year’s budget will be in implementation. As the saying goes,’ the taste of the pudding is in eating’ the budget speech is full of good intentions, but intentions alone cannot get rid of hunger. As for Nepali citizen, we are still on that elusive quest for accelerated growth and prosperity.

 

 

Hemant Dabadi

About Hemant Dabadi

Dr. Dabadi is a Senior Fellow at Samriddhi Foundation.

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