KATHMANDU: After keeping the house in abeyance for over a month for fear of obstruction by the opposition Maoist party, Nepal’s embattled government Monday announced that the new budget session of Parliament would convene from July 5.
The Prime Minister, Mr Madhav Kumar Nepal, who refuses to resign despite a year-long battle by the Maoists to make him quit, made the announcement after meeting the President, Mr Ram Baran Yadav, Monday.
Both the president, who is Nepal’s head of state, and the chairman of Parliament, Mr Subhash Nembang, have been expressing growing concern at the coalition government’s inability to start the budget session, which could plunge the state into a dire financial crisis like last year.
Mr Nembang told the media he had advised Nepal to convene the budget session nearly three weeks ago since lawmakers need time for a debate on the budget in the house.
However, the government failed to heed the advice for fear that the Maoists will obstruct the house.
The former guerrillas, who fought a 10-year war on the state, want to lead the government themselves, their claim bolstered by a win in the last elections.
Nepal’s persistent refusal to step down has angered the ex-rebels whose top leaders held a 12-day meeting this month to decide that they would continue to oppose the government’s plans and policies.
The budget session is expected to be stormy with the Maoists already having warned they would block the budget.
For all major decisions, the government needs the approval of two-thirds of the lawmakers. A Maoist opposition therefore will derail the new budget.
Last month, the government as well as parliament faced dissolution as they failed to promulgate a new constitution and the interim statute’s life ended.
The prime minister had to persuade the Maoists to support him to amend the constitution and extend the life of parliament and the statute by a year.
Now the former guerrillas say the government has betrayed them by not resigning, which was part of the deal for having bailed it out.
The continued battle between the ruling parties and the Maoists has led to Nepal already losing a month without making any headway in drafting the new constitution. There are fears the new statute will not be ready within the remaining 11 months, triggering yet another dire crisis.