Saturday, July 20, 2013

Budget for Dummies

Our interim government is going around town boasting about how they managed to bring out a full budget this year. I guess that should call for a party and let's even nominate our Finance Minister for Nobel Prize or something.  

I hope someday the 'budget announcer' will stop dangling the suitcase with red ribbons as he or she makes her way to announce the budget. Our Finance Minister is not Santa Claus and we have yet to be happy with the annual buget natak.

While civil servants, contractors and cadres will benefit from the budget, common citizens will have a hard time saving a few Rupees to buy a decent pair of gumboots. It's the same old natak every year.

It's always bad news for our smokers and drinkers. It's about time they learned how to grow their own tobacco leaves and make their own moonshine. The government could help us all  if they hiked taxes on cigarette and alcohol products by a 1,000%. That would really make us think twice before buying a pack of cancer sticks or a bottle of liver bomber.

We can never be like Singapore. We do not have the death penalty and we don't cane foreigners who over-stay their visas. But at least, we can peg our cigarette and alcohol taxes with that of Singapore. If you want to buy a pack of cigarettes then you should pay at least Rs 800. If you want a bottle of domestic whiskey then please fork out Rs 3,5000 per bottle.  

How about the Johnny Walker stuff our netas and sarkari hakim sahebs love to drink? Well, we should have a super tax on bidhesi stuff.  Or maybe we should make it mandatory for customers to show their source of income whenever they visit a liquor store to buy a bottle of  Blue Label. 

After all, only the fake VAT wallahs, corrupt civil servants, contractors and our visionary clowns can afford to buy them expensive bideshi raksis. And then we should pray that our government uses the taxes from such products for education instead of free lunch to our clowns.

The civil servants will be getting 18% pay hike and an additional Rs 1,000 a month  as chiya kharcha. I guess all the bribes they receive from service seekers was not enough for our lazy bums. A sarkari peon will now be making more than Rs 12,000 per month whereas if you are working as a peon for one of them business houses then you should be happy if you make even half of that. 

Our chief secretary will now be earning at least Rs 40,000 per month. Is that enough to live comfortably in Kathmandu? Nope but we have yet to find a hakim saheb who does not have a nice house in the valley. And we should not be worried about how they managed to do that with paltry salaries. 

Most of our sarkari hakim sahebs and netas have rich in-laws. And whenever the CIAA wallahs ask them how they managed to earn so much in such a little time, they have the same answer. Their father-hi-laws are rich and the land is in their wives' name.

As the government allocates billions of Rupees for so-called development projects, our contractors will once again make some dough while they carry out their shoddy work. And of course, they will have to pay our civil servants commission to get the government contracts. And how can we forget the mundrey gundas who are affiliated to our political parties? They will also need some chiya kharcha from the contractors.

And we common citizens have everything to lose. Our contractors can take all their time to finish the road widening projects. Our clowns think they have another decade to finish writing the constitution. We will be wasting Rs 16 billion to hold another CA election so that our clowns can enjoy their bhatta while they agree to disagree on everything except when it comes to looting the state coffer. And most of us have no option but to go overseas to make a few more Ringgits, Dinars and if we are lucky then a Dollar or a Yen.

Our budget for the upcoming fiscal year is 500+ billion Rupees.  The budget has more than doubled in the past five years and so has our trade deficit. We barely export goods worth a billion Amriki dollars whereas our imports stand at nerve-wrecking 5+ billion dollars. It's about time our government declares 2014 as a 'Minimize Import Year'.  It would not be possible to stop all imports so the best we can do is minimizing it.

We will need cooking gas to eat dal bhat. We need petroleum products so that our micro wallahs can drive like a snake in the middle of Kathmandu. But it's about time we introduced odd-even number plate number system so that we can save some fuel and it might help to ease traffic congestion. 

We should also introduce lunch-pooling where the whole neighborhood gets together and cooks lunch every day. We can save on cooking gas and even on rice and pulses as well.  But our government and the bureaucracy are not worried about saving because they are having fun skimming the funds.

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