Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Government claims there will be no plan holiday

Finance minister Shankar Koirala said there will be no plan holiday, assuaging the serious concerns of development partners.
Trying to satisfy development partners — during the Local Donor Meeting here today — regarding their concern on a 'plan holiday' due to the vacant National Planning Commission (NPC) at a crucial time when the third Three Year Interim Plan (2013-16) needs to be finalised, he said the government will appoint planning commission members including the vice chair soon.
The planning commission that remains vacant after vice chair Deependra Bahadur Kshetry and three members resigned on April 22, has not been able to call the meeting of National Development Council that will finalise the draft of the third Three Year Interim Plan.
Koirala, however, asked the development partners — who are waiting for the finalised draft of the plan — to align their respective country strategy papers in line with the government's development map.
Asking the development partners to also follow the Development Cooperation Report (DCR) 2013, which has concluded that foreign aid has been widely fragmented and not aligned to the government's ongoing second Three Year Interim Plan (2010-13), he blamed untimely and low disbursement, lack of effective oversight and low absorptive capacity as the key impediments to effective mobilisation of foreign aid.
"Aid effectiveness is key with accountability," he said, adding that effectiveness of foreign aid is also a concern of development partners that have been helping Nepal for the last six decades.
The development partners, however, asking the government to focus on four key areas as stop-gap measures to continue mutual accountability, transparency and aid effectiveness, asked for an update on the preparation status of the next three-year interim plan.
"The plan will provide the framework for long-term partnership and commitment of development partners, especially in the context of their next country partnership strategies," said World Bank (WB) country manager for Nepal Tahseen Sayed, speaking on behalf of the development partners.
She also asked the government to focus on budget and portfolio management for maximum development results; economic planning and programming; accountability and governance; and Foreign Aid Policy and aid effectiveness. "By adopting the MfDR approach in the plan, with associated results framework, greater harmonisation and alignment will take place," said Sayed, adding that more rapid progress in establishing a medium-term expenditure framework, with stronger linkages to budget allocation and outputs would bring more discipline and better oversight in managing the expenditure programme.
"We have recently seen unprecedented consensus among top political leaders on hydropower development and the government can use the opportunity to take administrative, legislative, and institutional measures to support hydropower development, including mechanisms for meaningful consultations with the local population," she added.
Hailing the release of the Auditor General's report on time, the development partners also asked the government to form an extraordinary committee — as an interim measure — to play the role of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) consisting of qualified personnel to scrutinise accounts and take necessary actions until a regular PAC is established.
On the occasion, they also welcomed and hailed the sharing of contours of the draft Foreign Aid Policy. "We understand that finalising the policy, in consultation with development partners, is a key priority of the government to bring more clarity with regard to foreign aid management," Sayed said.


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