The National Planning Commission (NPC) has revised its targetted time frame of the country's planned graduation to a developed country from the current status of Least Developed Country (LDC) by eight years to 2022.
"Though the current Three Year Interim Plan (2010-13) has envisioned to graduate Nepal to a developed country in the next two decades, we could graduate by 2022," according to the chairman of the Election Council Khil Raj Regmi, who is also the chair of the planning commission.
A country falls under a Least Developed Country (LDC), if it has less than $905 three-year average GNI per capita (poverty) — as a country will graduate, if it exceeds $1,086 — lowest indicators of socioeconomic indicators including nutrition, health, education and adult literacy along with the lowest Human Development Index ratings, and economic vulnerability based on instability of agricultural production, exports of goods and services, economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration and handicap of economic smallness, according to the Committee for Development Policy of the UN Economic and Social Council that reviews the LDC criteria every three years.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics, the GNI per capital is projected at $721 — some $ 365 less to graduate — for the current fiscal year, whereas Nepal has also been improving in some of the human development indicators under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in recent years.
Since the LDC category was started, only three countries have graduated to developing country status. The first country to graduate from LDC status was Botswana in 1994 followed by Cape Verde in 2007. Maldives became the third country to graduate to developing country status on January 1, 2011.
Currently, there are 14 countries from Asia and Pacific, apart from 34 from Africa, under the LDC group that Nepal is leading in the UN.
Apart from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh are other LDCs in SAARC.
As the planning commission is vacant currently, only the officiating members — finance minister, chief secretary, finance secretary and the secretary of NPC including chairman — were present in today's meeting that also decided to complete the homework for the third Three Year Interim Plan (2013-16) that will come into effect after mid-July as the current second Three Year Interim Plan will come to an end by mid-July.
The planning commission has remained vacant since April 22, after vice chair Deependra Bahadur Kshetry and three members resigned following the High Level Political Committee's decision to call back the appointees of the then Dr Baburam Bhattarai-led government.
In the absence of the vice chair and other members, it will be a Herculean task for NPC to prepare the strategy let alone finalise the draft of the third Three Year Interim Plan (2013-16), though the meeting also decided to work on it.
The planning commission has to call the meeting of Nepal Development Council to finalise the draft, which, if not finalised by the end of this month, could lead to a plan holiday.
Development partners have been waiting for the final draft of the third Three Year Interim Plan to align their programmes, according to the government's advice, as without the alignment, the donors' assistance — that have helped imporve human development indicators — will be derailed. However, the government itself is delaying the appointment pushing the country towards a plan holiday.
Earlier, finance minister Shankar Koirala had — after pressure from development partners — promised to appoint vice chair and members in the commission soon to expedite the preparation of strategies and finalise the draft to avoid a plan holiday.