EDITORIAL: Carrot and stick

Delay in completion of projects means their cost would increase which we cannot afford. There is the need for timely monitoring and evaluation whose absence is keenly felt

If a bill drafted by the National Planning Commission (NPC) is signed into law public entities in Nepal will be held accountable should there be a delay in the implementation of the development plans, policies, projects and programmes. The NPC draft on Monitoring and Evaluation Bill has been sent to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. This would then be forwarded to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to be tabled in the Parliament. This is indeed appropriate for the timely implementation of development projects, programme and such would enhance the development of the economy at a higher growth rate. According to the draft bill, if the public entities are unable to implement the plans as envisaged they would be held accountable. The bill also plans to reward projects and officials if they perform outstandingly.

Delay in the completion of projects and plans means that their cost would increase which we cannot afford. In order to avoid this, there is the need for timely monitoring and evaluation whose absence is keenly felt. The draft bill also has provisions for committees at central, state and local levels. It also would grant the public entities the permission to outsource their work, which is an innovative idea, or depend on other third parties to get the work done. The public entities would be required to have a three-year monitoring and evaluation plan that would be reviewed annually. The findings of the monitoring and evaluation must be made public within a month after obtaining them so that the manipulation of the data by the concerned entities and officials may be made difficult. This would be done by the National Development Action Committee. Many government entities and officials fail to own up for the delay in implementing their task. So far the monitoring and evaluation are largely done based on the budget used by the projects. The monitoring and evaluation should also be done ahead of the implementation of the projects and programmes. We also need to analyze the costs and benefits.

A third party should evaluate the work in progress and how it is being carried out and also its effectiveness. The public entities should be clear about their purpose from the pre-implementation phase. Delay in the implementation of the plans and projects without reason should not be pardoned. Once these are completed their sustainability and impact on the environment should come under scrutiny. Their impact on the lives of the people and society should also be taken into account. Their socio-economic environment should be assessed periodically without fail. Furthermore, there is a huge infrastructure gap faced by the country which needs to be resolved with a sense of urgency. Huge amounts of capital are remaining idle.  We need to speed up the capital spending at all costs if we are to succeed in accelerating the economic growth rate. Therefore, the draft bill, if made into law, would help in ensuring that the various plans, programmes and projects are completed as per schedule providing no leniency to those who are accountable.

Spirit of celebration

The Fagu or the festival of colours has passed off relatively peacefully this year in the Kathmandu Valley. Indeed, the past few years have seen a decline in rowdy activities relating to this festival mainly because of the strict enforcement of the law and regulations by the local administration and police. Just go a few years back and Holi was not a one-day affair – one day in the hills and the following day in the Tarai region – but a month-long nightmare, particularly for members of the fair sex. As a result, our girls, particularly in the Kathmandu Valley, would stop going to school and college two or three weeks before the actual day of colours.

Even the sober celebration this time saw 328 detained on charges of eve-teasing and hooliganism in the capital alone, apart from the many more incidents which escaped the notice of the cops. Similarly, many more riders of motorbikes or drivers of four-wheelers (1661) were detained for violating driving regulations, such as drunken driving, rough driving. Of them, 95 percent are reported to be bikers. Brawls occurred too. What has been done so far by the authorities is commendable. But more needs to be done to fully bring back the real spirit of celebration of the festival.