Revamp pro-poor policies: Experts

Kathmandu, October 3:

Senior economists have strongly recommended the government to review existing policies.

“Government has to work vigorously with a new vision to build new Nepal, as a decade-long insurgency has affected the overall development process,” they said adding that it is crucial to bring disadvantaged group into the mainstream of development initiatives by advancing their capacities along with increased access to resources for them at a greater degree.

Dr Shankar Sharma, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) expressed serious concerns over the government’s inability to distribute the resources among the poor people equally.

“Despite enough resources, poor people are yet to increase their access,” he said. “Therefore, poor people’s empowerment in the perspective of human development needs improvement.”

“The government has allocated 51 per cent of the total budget in the social sector but the outcome is not as desired due to weak service delivery and institutional mechanism,” Sharma added.

“If we want to see equitable development and steady economic growth of the disadvantaged, there should be a level playing field,” said Sriram Raj Pande, assistant resident representative and senior advisor on Pro-Poor Policies, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Human development is a major tool to empower people,” he said stressing to make service delivery system more effective at all levels to counter conflict-hit development.

“Nepal should adopt human development measures as a philosophy to achieve development goals,” he argued.

He strongly stressed on the need to work out pro-poor policies to lift their living standard for which the government and all institutions need to work in a cohesive manner.

“International community would also support in the process,” Pande said.

“Nepal should focus on a plan to see visible development based on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, strengthening institutional mechanism at the implementing level,” experts said.

“There is an urgent need to identify barriers at the local level and motivate the excluded people to bring into the mainstream of development activities,” Pande said.

Due to weak institutional system, weak participation of people in development activities and lack of effective human development, Nepal’s economic growth has been found latent and reduced to less than two per cent currently.

“During the year 1993-94, Nepal’s gross domestic Product (GDP) growth rate was around seven per cent but in 2006 it dropped to two per cent due to weak institutional system, lack of people’s participation in development activities and proper utilisation of resources and weak human development,” experts opined.

Pande opined that the government has to immediately resolve the problems surrounding the education, health, poverty and environment sectors in an effective manner strengthening sound institutional mechanisms to achieve development goals.

He called on for revamping all existing government policies and making them pro-poor.

He informed that Global National Strategy (GNS) is being prepared by the end of 2006 and thereafter, monitoring mechanisms would be implemented to see the progress of development.

“Even for attracting investment, stable system is a must,” said Pandey, adding that people should be made ‘accountable and responsible’ in integrating poor people’s concerns.

He also stressed on expediting Nepal’s reform agenda concentrating on making macro-economic policy reforms, transforming agriculture, expanding equitable education and health facilities, creating more employment opportunities and empowering the disadvantaged and marginalised groups.