South Asia

Nepal government to table annual budget

Youths belonging to a self proclaimed non-political group hold up yellow cards at Constituent Assembly members, outside the Parliament House in Kathmandu, September 26, 2010, saying they should be penalized for a foul for not being able to elect a new Prime Minister.
Image caption Nepalis are losing patience with their politicians

Nepal's parliament has agreed to allow its caretaker government to table the annual budget amid fears the country is heading towards a financial crisis.

The budget will be tabled on Friday and is expected to be passed on Saturday by the 27 political parties in the country's Constituent Assembly.

The parties agreed to the move after the government ran out of money this week.

Nepal has had no prime minister since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned in June.

He had said political infighting was blocking the peace process.

'People worried'

"There's a sense of crisis in the country that the budget needs to be passed soon," said Constituent Assembly member Gagan Thapa.

"People are worried about their salaries and their pensions and whether government departments are going to run out of money."

Nepal's political parties agreed to pass the budget with the condition that no new government policies would be funded.

However, existing health, education and infrastructure projects will continue to be paid for.

Efforts to agree the budget - which was supposed to have been passed in mid-July - have been stalled by the country's political crisis.

Since then, parliamentarians have voted 16 times to elect a new prime minister, but no candidate has been able to gain a clear majority.

The 17th vote is scheduled for Friday.

Although talks are continuing between the three main political parties, so far there is no sign of a breakthrough that will end the impasse.

Several ideas for a power-sharing agreement have been proposed, including one scheme for each of the three major parties to take on the role of prime minister in rotation.

Politicians say they hope to come up with a deal before the Maoist party, the largest in parliament, begins its plenum on Sunday.

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