Nepal PM poll, budget in disarray once more

November 19th, 2010 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Nov 19 (IANS) Nepal’s direly cash-strapped caretaker government’s bid to appease the opposition Maoists and pass the new budget, four months after the new financial year started, landed in fresh trouble Friday along with the bid to hold a 17th round of vote for a new prime minister as a lesser party opposed the move.

Running out of money, caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had finally hammered out a deal with the former Maoist guerrillas to table a full budget in parliament Friday though without new programmes and policies.

Along with the budget, parliament was also scheduled to hold the 17th round of vote, already postponed once this month, to elect a new prime minister, almost five months after the prime minister resigned due to Maoist pressure in June.

However, on Friday, an influential former minister from the Terai plains and sitting MP opposed the move to table the new budget, calling it a ploy to override parliament.

Jayprakash Prasad Gupta, co-chairman of the regional Madhesi Janadhikar Forum party, regis-tered an objection in the house Friday, saying the caretaker government took the help of the President, Ram Baran Yadav, to bypass parliament.

“To bring the budget, the caretaker government needed to amend the constitution, which needs the approval of parliament,” Gupta told IANS.

“However, it bypassed it by getting a presidential order. This makes parliament superfluous and we object to it.”

Now Finance Minister Surendra Prasad Pandey’s ambitious NRS 300 billion budget is in the doldrums once more.

“The government can’t pass the budget before holding a discussion on my objection in the house and seeking a vote on it,” Gupta said.

With the budget uncertain, the 17th round of vote, also scheduled for Friday, becomes uncertain as well.

In the past, the budget was obstructed by the Maoists who said the caretaker government had no right to table it.

It was regarded as a pressure tactic to persuade the ruling communists to reach a new power-sharing agreement with them.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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