Nepal finance minister presents $12.15 bn budget

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Kathmandu, May 30 (IANS) The Nepal government has presented a budget of 1.315 trillion Nepali rupees ($12.15 billion) for the 2018-19 fiscal year with a target of achieving an economic growth rate of eight per cent.

Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada presented the budget on Tuesday at the joint session of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly with an outlay of one third of the total budget for the newly elected provincial and local governments, the Himalayan Times reported.

The provincial and local governments received 443 billion Nepali rupees ($4.09 billion), which will provide a base for lower level governments to prepare their own annual budget for the next fiscal year that begins in mid-July.

Compared to the current fiscal year’s budget, the new budget is bigger by around 37 billion rupees ($342 million). The Nepali government which vowed to make the next fiscal year a foundation year for economic prosperity, prioritised employment for the youths, speedy development of social sectors and injecting capital, technology and research in agriculture, water resources and tourism.

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Development of highways, railways, irrigation, energy and urban infrastructure, post earthquake reconstruction and good governance were the other priorities of the budget.

It aims to create additional employment for 500,000 people in the next fiscal. The government has sought to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in export oriented sectors.

As the Himalayan country is to celebrate Visit Nepal Year 2020, promotional programmes will be launched focusing on India and China, the two largest source markets for Nepal’s tourism.

The budget has lowered the threshold for applying capital gains tax in land transactions and increased excise duty on liquor and tobacco products and vehicles — four wheelers with a capacity above 1,000cc and two wheelers with a capacity above 150cc.

It also gave certain income tax waivers for industries employing over 100 people. Minister Khatiwada said he hoped the measures announced in the budget would bring a positive social and economic transformation in the country.

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