‘Know before asking, don’t be Oli govt’s spokesperson’: Congress policy laid foundation of development, says Dr. Mahat (With video)

budget fiscal year 2019/20

KATHMANDU, May 28: Prime Times television’s most popular television talk show Janata Janna Chahanchan has never been boring—always full of interesting conversation and never shy of intense debates and dramas.

On Monday, Dr Ram Saran Mahat, leader of main opposition party Nepali Congress, frequently told show host Rishi Dhamala ‘not to interrupt’ and ‘know before you ask questions’ not even hesitating to accuse the Reporters’ Club Nepal’s President Dhamala of advocating for Nepal Communist Party Chair K P Sharma Oli-led government.

In the talk show organized to discuss the upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2019/20, six-time former Finance Minister Dr. Mahat claimed that it was Nepali Congress’ economic policy that laid the entire foundation of the economic development of Nepal.

Mahat accused the government of not worrying about the budget.

“They talk nonsense, artificially allocate a larger budget and fail to implement it. They talk big but lack the ability to work.”

“The previous year’s budget was ambitious but its implementation and output were less than expected.”

When Dhamala said all the finance ministers have increased the size of the budget each fiscal year, Mahat said, “No…no..no. Rishi ji, you must know and learn before you talk. I am the only one who allocated the budget in limits when everyone was lobbying for an increase in size.”

The budget should be increased paying attention to previous year’s expense. An increment of 10-15 percent is normal.

According to him, the Nepali Congress-led government was able to cut down the national loan from 65 percent to 25 percent.

“Nepali Congress brought several economic reforms.”

When Dhamala said Dr. Mahat started the privatization of business and industry, Dr. Mahat said, “First know the facts…then speak. I supported the transfer of business from the public to private ownership because it was the need of the hours then. We took the correct decision.”

“But, isn’t the privatization has made the country’s economic condition worse? Which industry that was privatized has thrived?” asked Dhamala.

Mahat said, “Nonsense. Don’t talk nonsense. You should have a better understanding. Government-owned industries might have closed but…

Dhamala interrupted, “What about Janakpur Cigarette factory?”

“First listen carefully. Let me speak. You ask a question and interrupt in the middle…,” said Mahat.

“The government had to provide monetary support to the Janakpur industry. But now, the government receives billions of revenues from the privately owned tobacco industries.”

“Be it shoe factory, cigarette or sugar factory, the privatization has increased the size of government coffers. We used the same money to invest in the development of the country.”

Communist countries like China and Russia have privatized the business because government-run industries bear the loss. The government should focus on education, health, administration not business.

“Isn’t Nepal Telecom is profit?, asked Dhamala.

“Because its monopoly,” replied Mahat. “You should understand better first. Non-competitive industries such as telecom can be run by the government. But, other business which runs in the competition should be in the market.”

When Dhamala said the budget Mahat brought has doomed Nepali Congress, Mahat said, “you should be knowledgeable.”

“Our economic policy is not the reason we lost the elections. Even when the country was in crisis due to Maoist insurgency, our policy kept the country’s economy stable. Nepal, which collected 12 billion in revenue now collects 800-900 billion. It is because of our economic policy.

“So, you should not run after the fabricated rumors.”

“But you know, the communist government has always brought the popular budgets,” said Dhamala.

“Popular? When you distribute money, it becomes popular. Don’t you mean this?, said irritated Mahat.

“You have not understood here… so before you ask you should understand.”

“A finance minister’s responsibility is not becoming popular. His task is to think about a long-term economic goal. Distributing money and becoming popular will not take the country to prosperity.

“They have distributed money to their cadres. They have become successful,” said Dhamala.“You could not distribute money to cadres, neither you gave it to the poor.”

“You questions are funny and laughable,” said Mahat.

“You are ignorant. You have no knowledge.”

Dhamala then said he was ready to debate with Mahat for hours on the economic policy.

“You knowledge does not match that standard,” responded Mahat.

“Has the budget you brought developed the country?” asked Dhamala.

“All the development works and reforms are credited to our budget,” replied Mahat.

“Should the government distribute the money from state coffers to its cadres? Did they give you?”

Dhamala said, “Excuse me Dr. Mahat. I will quit journalism if you find proof.”

To watch more, see the video: