The country direly needs honest and committed political leadership across the political spectrum, which alone can ensure political stability to adapt to national public polices for strengthening national unity and public well-being. Forget they must not that they are the guardians of public well-being. The country also needs well-built-in bureaucratic mechanisms at all levels of governance
Implementation of any public policy is of pivotal concern, and its successful realisation hangs on several conditions. An expert on the subject, Dean L. Fixsen, observes "implementation is decidedly a complex endeavor".
All agree that effective and successful policy implementation is the key to national development.
However, it is reckoned that "successful policy implementation is often dependent on creating strategies broad enough to have a significant impact yet tailored for context specific issues that arise", as stated by researcher Joseph Stewart.
As the implementation process is challenging, particularly in poor Asian-African countries, numerous studies and research projects have been instituted to find out what makes implementation happen. For example, University of Geneva and National University of Singapore launched a joint study on the crucial implementation process in 2019. They concluded that the following two factors were responsible for the failure of policy implementation.
First, there is the risk of a poverty trap where a low level of economic output implies a low level of human development. Second, there is the danger of corruption, where political instability dissipates any advances in economic growth. The researchers on the subject point to the vicious circle, which they have named "circular causation", meaning that corruption prevents public policy and its implementation from being effective in poor countries, resulting in the breeding of poverty at a faster rate.
In general, policies against poverty are extremely vulnerable in a general climate of corruption.
Thus, corruption stands as a formidable barrier on the way to successful implementation of any public policy, which sprouts political instability that, in turn, breeds uncertainty in the implementation process, diminishing the image and popularity of the political leadership in poor countries. Its non-implementation definitely retards economic growth, contributing to a surge in poverty.
The above narratives reflect the prevailing situation in Nepal, too. At the moment, Nepal has been undergoing political instability since the last seven decades, more so in the past three decades. Development plans and development interventions have largely been ineffective in enhancing equitable and inclusive growth in the country.
Nepal launched its first periodic economic plan in 1956. To date, Nepal has completed 14 periodic plans. Currently, the country is implementing the 15th Five Year Plan, which began in fiscal year 2019-2020. In mid-July of this year, the 15th plan will see the third consecutive year of its launch. It is, however, chilling to note that the first two years of planning have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.
A long time back, the government had projected it would graduate to developing economy status from that of a least developed country (LDC) by 2022.
However, the United Nations has granted a few more years for graduation until 2026. In view of the troubled economic situation in the LDCs due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the agency might have prolonged the period for the less fortunate countries.
The National Planning Commission had tagged Nepal's development planning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, with its 17 goals and 169 targets, to be achieved by the end of 2030.
Obviously, the Nepali populace has suffered and is suffering from the stagnant economic growth with non-implementation of the pronounced public policy caused by the frequent changes in the political leadership and a weak bureaucratic mechanism that have stunted economic growth.
Distraction by the political leadership and complacency by the bureaucratic mechanism have more to do with the failure and non-commission of public policy to gain traction for social uplift and economic up-gradation. Learning from past experiences, conditions, as enumerated below, could be built up to bring back a hopeful situation in the country to transform the blighted plight of the fellow citizens.
The country direly needs honest and committed political leadership across the political spectrum, which alone can ensure political stability to adapt to national public polices for strengthening national unity and public well-being.
Forget they must not that they are the guardians of public well-being.
The country also needs well-built-in bureaucratic mechanisms at all levels of governance. Efficient and disciplined bureaucrats are a valued national asset. Any public policy must be so framed as to gain public support in the targeted areas, and various layers and segments of society. Stakeholders of national policy need to be consulted and taken into confidence, which will enable their constructive participations to ensure success. The trusted formulators of public policy need to be gimlet-eyed with analytical ability while keeping in touch with the reality of the theme they are dealing with.
Today, the world is interdependent.
Therefore, the formulator should be widely knowledgeable about external factors that can have repercussion on any policy formulation. Corruption in all its nuances and shapes needs to be nixed as it is the mother of all troubles.
The top political leadership must be equipped with foresight, both horizontally and vertically.
Narrow partisanship and egoism of the political leaders must be shunned if they are to become truly statesmen for the cause of national unity and national rejuvenation.
The above conditions can truly gain traction to overcome all hurdles in the intricate implementation process of public policy.
Crucially, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation process will go a long way in ensuring its success.
Will all those be forthcoming to galvanise the implementation circuit?
A version of this article appears in the print on May 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.