The real thing

Pumping in money does not guarantee the success of a development project. Many projects in vital areas have been funded by the United Nations and other donor agencies of international repute. But despite the use of huge amounts of finances, technical expertise and human resources, the results have often proved far from satisfactory. When it comes to assessing the impact of the projects launched to boost Nepal’s manufacturing and trade-related capacity, the performance of the projects is even more unenviable. In the wake of WTO challenges, Nepal will have to rub shoulders with global competitors, including in a number of sectors even in the domestic market.

In the run-up to Nepal’s WTO membership in 1997, UNDP had taken up the challenge of boosting Nepal’s trade and manufacturing-based capacity. The first phase of the project termed Nepal’s Accession to the WTO lasted from 1997 to 2003; the second phase called the Multilateral Trade Integration and Human Development in Nepal lasted from July 2003 to December 2004 while the Trade Related Capacity Building expired last December. But with the UN’s renewed commitment to fund such projects in future, the UNDP will have to shift its focus to the needs of the local people by assessing their requirements. This calls for coming up with fresh ideas like promoting the handicraft industry and related attractions. Unnecessary expenditure has been incurred on administrative matters while the development of physical infrastructure has been largely neglected. The UN body must give top priority to building infrastructure like dry ports and less attention to non-productive activities such as legislative reforms. The hiring of foreign consultants that account for a lion’s share of the expenditure should be minimised as local manpower, which is much cheaper, should be developed. There seems to be too much emphasis on researches, which often mean a sheer waste of money, time and expertise. Money should be better utilised.