Koshi becomes first province to be in a budget holidayThe deadline for the budget ordinance either to be endorsed as it is or be replaced with a new bill has ended.
The Koshi Province has entered a budget holiday.
The deadline for the budget ordinance either to be endorsed as it is or be replaced with a new bill ended on Sunday.
The CPN-UML’s Hikmat Karki government had brought the budget through ordinance on June 15. The Koshi provincial government unveiled a Rs36.24 billion budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024. Province Head Parsuram Khapung authenticated the ‘Koshi Province Financial Ordinance 2023’ and ‘Koshi Province Appropriation Ordinance 2023’.
A day earlier, Khapung had prorogued the provincial assembly after the government presented its policies and programmes.
The Constitution of Nepal has set a 60-day deadline to endorse an ordinance.
Article 202 of the constitution says ordinances become ineffective if they are not endorsed within 60 days from the first sitting of the new provincial assembly session.
After the Supreme Court issued an interim order for a second time in the name of the Uddhav Thapa-led provincial government not to take any important decisions, the doors to endorse the budget brought through an ordinance have closed.
The court on Thursday ruled that the vote of confidence secured by the chief minister on Monday was unconstitutional. The Thapa government has now been reduced to a caretaker.
Amid this situation, Koshi Minister for Financial Affairs Baburam Gautam said the ruling coalition will go to the court seeking a way out. “We will go to the court asking for a way out to save the province from suffering a budget holiday. We will issue an ordinance if the court clears the path for us,” he said.
The ruling coalition was planning to register the replacement bill but could not do so due to the obstructions from the opposition parties. Thus the Assembly session ended on Wednesday.
In the 93-member provincial assembly, the main opposition UML is the largest party with 40 seats. The Congress has 29 seats, the Maoist Centre 13, the RPP 6, the CPN (Unified Socialist) 4, and the Janata Samajbadi Party has one seat.
The government then was planning to bring another ordinance, but the Supreme Court issued the interim order at the same time.
Article 202 (1) of the constitution states, “In case, at any time, except when the Provincial Assembly is in session, a circumstance exists which renders it necessary to take immediate action, the chief of the province may, on the recommendation of the provincial council of ministers, promulgate an ordinance.”
A confusion has now surfaced over whether the government, barred from taking any long-term decision and reduced to a caretaker status, can issue the ordinance.
Experts say even the caretaker government can issue the budget ordinance.
Constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari said the court’s order about the long-term decision does not intend to bar the budget because it is a recurring necessity.
“The only option now is to bring the ordinance again. The new ordinance should be the same as the earlier one,” Adhikari told the Post.
Former finance secretary Rameshore Khanal echoed Adhikari saying that the caretaker government can also issue the budget-related ordinance as no law bars it from doing so.
But, as the deadline has already passed, the province will suffer a budget holiday.
A budget holiday basically means the government expenditures will be suspended. “If the Thapa-led government cannot bring the ordinance, the province cannot make the budget expenditure,” Khanal said.