All the seven States in Nepal have come up with plans to effectively deal with the novel coronavirus as the pandemic has been taking its toll on the people’s lives and the national economy. There is a constitutional provision that requires State governments to unveil their budget for the next fiscal year in the meetings of their respective State Assemblies on Asar 1. Introducing their budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the State governments have also accorded high priority to agriculture and employment generation in view of looming economic downturn. The number of COVID-19 cases has now surged past 7,000 in the country despite the various prevention and control measures in place. The nation could report more infections in the days ahead with the relaxation of the nationwide lockdown that had lasted for more than 80 days. As of now, 20 persons have died from the deadly killer virus disease while the number of recovered people has exceeded 1,150. More than 5,530 patients are now in isolation and about 133,000 are staying in quarantines across the country.
The government of State 1 has introduced a budget of Rs. 40.89 billion for the next fiscal year (2020/21). The size of the budget is smaller by Rs. 1.30 billion as compared to that of the current fiscal year. Health, agriculture and infrastructure are in the priority of the budget in this State. Likewise, the State 2 government has unveiled the budget of Rs. 33.57 billion for the same fiscal year. It has set aside Rs. 15.42 billion for recurrent expenditure, Rs. 17.978 billion for capital expenditure and Rs. 160 million to financial management. Its budget size is lower by Rs. 7 billion as compared to that of the current fiscal year. It has laid thrust on containing COVID-19, developing agriculture, health and education sectors and creating jobs. The government of Bagmati State has also introduced the budget of Rs. 51.42 billion focusing on health, agriculture and employment creation. It had launched the budget of Rs. 47.61 billion for current fiscal year. Only about 50 per cent of the current fiscal year’s total budget is expected to be spent by the end of this fiscal year.
Similarly, the Gandaki State has introduced the budget of Rs. 34.84 billion. Of the total budget, the State government has allocated Rs. 19.99 billion for recurrent expenditure and Rs. 14.34 billion for capital expenditure. The budget is focussed on dealing with COVID-19 and boosting agriculture, health, and industry and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, the government of State 5 has released the budget of Rs. 36.35 billion. The budget is smaller in size by Rs. 64.3 million compared to that of the current fiscal year. This State has also aimed at reviving the coronavirus-hit economy and creating jobs. The Karnali State has proposed the budget of Rs. 33.74 billion. This State government has also prioritised creating jobs and tackling COVID-19. The government of Sudurpaschim State has unveiled the budget of Rs. 33. 38 billion. Through the budget, this State has aimed at saving the people’s lives from COVID-19 pandemic and generating jobs. As there are grievances that most of the States have failed to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, they must address such issues and upgrade quarantines and isolation centres immediately. No doubt, the State governments are also key players in making federalism a success.