Thursday, April 19, 2012

Better investment environment can help achieve MDGs

Improvement in the investment environment either through improvement in policies or by providing incentives during the transition phase to partly compensate obstacles could help encourage the private sector which could in turn create more employment and help Nepal achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to experts.
"The private sector has created almost 2.5 million jobs in the formal sectors and five million jobs in the informal sectors besides agriculture which is one of the largest employment generators," said former member of National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr Pushkar Bajracharya while presenting his paper 'Millennium Development Goals : The Private Sector Perspective' at a workshop organised by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the National Planning Commission in the valley today.
Without economic development and employment generation the goals of education, health, environment and mobilising resources under the MDGs cannot be achieved. "Thus, the government should define the role of the private sector and non-governmental sector," he said, adding the government alone cannot generate jobs because public sector investment is sizable and is not adequate. "The public sector has created only 500,000 jobs."
"Despite the uncertain political environment, power outage, labour militancy, high cost of doing business, and low or no incentives to the private sector, it has been contributing at achieving MDGs as Nepal is amongst a few countries that has achieved some of the MDGs even earlier than projected," added Bajracharya. "But there are still some challenges like sustained employment generation, regional disparity and hiking up national efforts to sustain poverty reduction."
According to the Millennium Development Goals Nepal progress report 2010, the country is on track in achieving most of its MDG targets with a few exceptions, if the prevailing trends persist and efforts are continued or improved.
"The proportion of population living on less than $1-per day stood at 19.7 per cent in 2010 and the target of reducing it to 17 per cent by 2015 is likely," said former NPC member South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) executive chair Dr Posh Raj Pandey. "But the proportion of employed people living on less than $1- per day that stood at 22 per cent in 2010, is unlikely to come down to the target of 17 per cent by 2015," he said, adding that the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line which stood at 25.4 per cent in 2010 could come down to 21 per cent by 2015.
Besides inadequate infrastructure and low productivity, slow progress in development of infrastructure, hesitant private sector and low private investment, and low development spending by the government coupled with low and stagnant economic growth, and resource gap are the bottlenecks in achieving all the MDGs by 2015, added Pandey.
Nepal needs a total resource of Rs 1,395.8 billion but only Rs 944.4 billion is available which accounts for a resource gap of Rs 451.4 billion, to meet MDGs, according to MDG Needs Assessment 2010 report.

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