KATHMANDU, Nov 12: The World Bank (WB) has expressed concerns over delays in reaching an agreement on formation of a full-year budget, as it called on the government to practice prudence while drafting the budget.
“From the perspective of a development partner, uncertainties over the budget seriously undermine absorptive capacity within the country and reduce the scope for commitment of future foreign assistance,” Ellen Goldstein, World Bank country director for Nepal and Bangladesh, told Prime Minister Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai during a meeting.
She, however, cautioned against formation of an overly expansionary budget.
During her meeting with the PM, Goldstein also said the World Bank Group stands ready to significantly ramp up its support for the development of Nepal´s hydropower potential provided that the government urgently addresses implementation bottlenecks in ongoing power sector operations.
“Protracted implementation delays are holding back the Bank and the private sector from investing substantially in affordable power generation and transmission,” a WB statement quoted Goldstein as saying to the PM.
During the meeting, PM Bhattarai noted the need for urgent resolution of the current challenges and acknowledged transformational investments in hydropower are critical pathways out of poverty and unemployment for Nepal. He also informed about government´s decision to form a steering committee, chaired by the chief secretary, and including the private sector and development partners, that will report to him to accelerate hydropower development.
During the meeting the WB country director also held discussions on the World Bank´s future assistance strategy for Nepal.
Goldstein, who was accompanied by Tahseen Sayed, World Bank country manager for Nepal, during meetings, also met with Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun and senior officials of the government, including the chief secretary and the finance secretary.