Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is Nepal heading towards plan holiday?

It may not have been in the plan, but the country is likely to be visited by plan holiday, an event that could cost country dear.
The National Planning Commission (NPC) is on the horns of a dilemma regarding preparation of the third Three-Year Interim Plan (2013-16) in the wake of a face-off between the national think-tank and the government.
The planning commission has, though already approved the draft of the approach paper for the Third Three-Year Interim Plan, ‘the delay in the formation of National Development Council has ruined its plan to finalise the draft approach paper’, said NPC vice-chairman Deependra Bahadur Kshetry.
The National Development Council is 300-member body that comprises representatives of all the political parties, reputed institutions working in the field of social and cultural sectors and academicians.
Tradition has it that the prime minister, as the chairman of planning commission, calls a meeting of the National Development Council. “But the chairman of the interim election government is busy in state affairs, and does not have time on his hands for the planning commission,” Kshetry said, adding that the commission is already late for the formation of National Development Council that will finalise the approach paper of the third Three Year Interim Plan.
Even the development partners, especially the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, are waiting for the planning commission to finalise the draft approach paper so that they could put the finishing touches on their own strategy papers.
The Development Cooperation Report (DCR) 2011-12 published this week has also pointed out at stark differences between the priorities set by the second Three-Year Interim Plan (2010-2013) and the development partners. According to the report, the second Three-Year Interim Plan focused on infrastructure development, whereas the development partners’ support was aimed at social sectors. The longer the planning commission or National Development Council for that matter, takes to finalise the approach paper of the third Three-Year Interim Plan, the tougher it will be for development partners to align their programmes with the government priorities.
However, the draft approach paper of the third Three-Year Interim Plan — that has estimated expenditures of around Rs 1,900 billion over the three fiscal years — has focused on infrastructure and hydropower development, aiming at bringing poverty down to 17 per cent from current 25.4 per cent.
The planning commission had promised that it would send the finalised approach paper of the third Three-Year Interim Plan to the development partners by the first week of May so that they could match their projects and programmes with those of the government.
The second Three-Year Interim Plan, which will end on July 15, is the second such plan in a row that has estimated expenditure of Rs 1,023.7 billion over the three years till the end of the current fiscal year 2012-13.
As the delay in budget for the current fiscal year had hit the economic growth, pulling it down to six-year low of 3.56 per cent, the  failure in finalising the approach paper by the end of this fiscal year would hit the country much more.
“Failure in finalising the draft approach paper on our part will further befuddle our development partners,” Kshetry said, asking “How are they going to support a country which is struggling to finalise its own programmes and projects.
The three year interim plan was brought after the Constituent Assembly (CA) election was held in 2006 -- 2007-10 -- till the transition period. However, the political transition lengthened after the CA died on Mar 28, 2012 without finalising the Constitution during the second three year interim plan (2010-13).
Earlier, in 1962 also, a three-year interim plan was implemented, after the demise of democracy and introduction of the party-less Panchayat system.


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