NPC prepares concept note on country’s 14th periodic plan

The efficacy of upcoming plan will not be judged by brilliance of ideas and agenda, but inclusion of hard-nosed solutions to overcome challenges

— Swarnim Wagle, senior economist and former NPC member

Kathmandu, March 31

The National Planning Commission (NPC), the apex body that frames the country’s development plans and policies, has endorsed the concept note on 14th Periodic Plan based on which strategies, policies and programmes would be devised to provide impetus to the government’s plan of attaining sustainable development goals (SDGs) and transforming Nepal into a middle-income economy by 2030.

NPC is implementing a new three-year plan — considered as short- to medium-term development strategy — from next fiscal beginning mid-July. This is the 14th time government is coming up with a periodic plan, based on which annual budget and other development policies, plans, programmes and strategies are prepared.

“The concept note, which has been approved by NPC’s board, was prepared after holding consultation with stakeholders from around the nation, who gathered at seven different locations in the country,” a high-ranking NPC official told The Himalayan Times. “It’ll work as a guideline for NPC officials to devise the new plan.”

The upcoming periodic plan will basically aim to support the government in achieving all the SDGs by 2030 and help Nepal emerge as a middle-income country by that time by embracing the spirit of a welfare state, says the concept paper, a copy of which has been obtained by THT.

“This process needs to be led by unleashing the potential of Nepal’s competitive industries, such as high-value agriculture and agro-industries, labour intensive manufacturing and modern services, such as information and communication technology and tourism, while building essential infrastructure and human capital, strengthening governance, creating enabling environment, and extending robust social protection system,” adds the concept note.

The 14th periodic plan will incorporate strategies to meet these goals to ensure socio-economic transformation envisaged by the government could be achieved.

During the implementation of the existing three-year plan, which is expiring at the end of the current fiscal year in mid-July, socio-economic development agenda was overshadowed by works initiated to frame a new constitution, which was finally promulgated on September 20.

Also, devastating earthquakes of April and May, which claimed around 9,000 lives, destroyed around 591,647 private houses, affected livelihoods of about 5.6 million workers and caused damage and losses worth around Rs 706.46 billion, put a damper on Nepal’s economy, which was gearing up for higher trajectory of growth.

As Nepal was trying to rise up from the rubble of the earthquakes, protests demanding changes in some of the provisions of the new constitution, began in the Tarai, which was followed by blockades on Nepal-India border points. The trade embargo effectively choked supplies of petroleum products, life-saving medicines, food products, raw materials and other essentials.

Because of all these reasons, economy is expected to expand by around two per cent this fiscal — slowest pace since 2002.

One of the initiatives that needs to be taken immediately is address short-term economic and development challenges by managing or responding to ‘unavoidable kinds of shocks’, says the concept note. “Also, post-earthquake reconstruction programmes need to be implemented effectively and capital expenditure in reconstruction of infrastructure must be raised,” further says the concept note, adding, “Informal economy appears to be expanding and nature of such expansion is getting structural. In this context, short- to medium-term strategies should focus on reintegrating the burgeoning informal economy into formal economy.”

Although Nepal is well known for devising excellent development plans and strategies, the country has not been able to rise above the status of least developed countries so far because of problems on the implementation side.

“So, the efficacy of upcoming periodic plan will not be judged by the brilliance of ideas and agenda, but inclusion of hard-nosed solutions to overcome rigid implementation challenges that have plagued Nepal for decades,” said Swarnim Wagle, senior economist and former NPC member.

During Envisioning Nepal 2030 conference organised by the NPC earlier this week, Joon-Kyung Kim, president of Korea Development Institute (KDI) and KDI School of Public Policy and Management, had said: “Development is one per cent planning and 99 per cent implementation.”

“This process of addressing implementation-related problems should begin with overhauling of the incentive structure and de-politicisation of the civil service,” Wagle added.