The government of Nepal has unveiled the first budget drawn up since the country introduced a new constitution last year, with an aim to reconstruct and revive the battered economy. Finance minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel outlined a $9.78 billion budget, allocating over $1 billion to rebuilding efforts, while directing funds for infrastructure development and agriculture across the country. “We will speed up the post-quake reconstruction efforts and complete it within stipulated time… I have made provisions to make sure that the required resources are not scarce,” Poudel said.
According to Kathmandu’s estimates, the Himalayan nation will need around $8.4 billion to fund rebuilding, with donors pledging $4.1 billion in aid. The country’s economy, already weakened by the disaster, faced another blow when protesters angry at the terms of a new national constitution mounted a blockade at the Indian border, creating crippling shortages that lasted for months. “The objective of the budget of the coming fiscal year is to… revive the economy affected by the earthquake and the obstruction of the supplies,” Poudel said.
Poudel vowed to accelerate distribution of aid to the earthquake survivors and announced interest-free loans of up to $3,000 for reconstruction of homes. “The budget is quite ambitious but it is moving towards the right direction,” said Chandra Mani Adhikari, senior economist and chairman of the National Council for Economic and Development Research.
“What is important now is to make sure that we have the capacity to implement it,” Adhikari told AFP.