For the past four months, secretary of the National Planning Commission Yubaraj Bhusal had a hectic schedule as he continued to work in finalizing the 13th Periodic Plan. By bringing the 13th plan, the National Planning Commission secretariat has proved its own institutional capacity, evolved over the last five decades, its manpower and expertise available within.
When vice-chairman and members, appointed on political grounds, resigned in May, hardly forty percent of the work on the thirteenth plan was completed and even various rounds of consultation with stakeholders were still to be held. Determined to bring the national periodic plan to prevent a plan holiday, secretary Bhusal mobilized his secretariat to complete the remaining task.
The newly appointed chairman of council of ministers Khil Raj Regmi backed Bhusal’s ideas to bring the national plan to prevent anarchy in the country’s overall economic development. A group of politically motivated technocrats opposed the idea, saying that it will have a crisis of ownership in the later stage. The 13th Plan document appears finally as a consensus document.
Although he has gone through various stages and did almost all hard work to rescue the plan, secretary Bhusal is now the happiest man following the publication of the document. During the preparatory period, secretary Bhusal found well-organized institutional capability in a strong team within the National Planning Commission.
There is reason for him to be happy. Although a group of people criticized the plan as unnecessary in the present context, the plan, virtually endorsed by all different stakeholders and political parties, recognizes the professional institutional capability of the National Planning Commission.
With the resignation of NPC members, uncertainties had appeared as positions were vacant. Secretary Bhusal decided to carry on the incomplete task with an aim to prevent the country from going to a plan holiday, which may have had a very bad economic implication for the country. Even the present full budget would not have been possible without the Interim Plan.
At a time when Dr. Rabindra Shakya, an experienced hand of the National Planning Commission, was appointed as the vice chairperson, the approach paper of the three-year interim plan (2070-2073) was completed.
Now the Interim Plan is already in place and the country can now direct itself towards the targeted development. The 13th plan was prepared after intensive discussions at various levels including district, region and centre before it was finalized under the guidance of National Development Council.
"This is a team work. Our aim is to prevent the development chaos in the country and the National Planning Commission secretariat and its staff, with support from all different stakeholders, made it," said Bhusal. "From the very beginning, I was against the plan holiday. Nepal cannot afford such a plan holiday as it needs to achieve higher economic growth rate to sustain. I am happy that a large number of people agreed with NPC views.”
As NPC finalized the approach paper organizing various meetings of the stakeholders at different levels, NPC finally pushed the document for formal approval when Dr. Rabindra Shakya, an experienced hand of the planning commission, was appointed as the new vice chairman.
Having knowledge about the institutional capacity of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shakya did not feel any hesitation to give a nod to the document, which later endorsed by the National Development Council meeting participated in by political parties, experts, business communities, Nepal's development partners and people of all walks of life.
One of the positive sides of the current interim plan making is that everyone agreed to have a periodic plan. Chairman of council of ministers and chairman of National Planning Commission Khil Raj Regmi gave a nod from the beginning. Chief secretary Leelamani Paudyal, officio member of NPC, also actively supported NPC’s move.
At a time when nobody knows how long Nepal’s current state of political uncertainty will go, National Planning Commission Secretariat has given a relief to Nepal’s development experts, by producing a document to give at least three years of economic direction in Nepal. Thanks to the approval of the three-year plan, the government found the basis for the current budget and formulated the government policies and programs on the same basis.
One of the ambitious parts of the plan is to graduate Nepal from the Least Developed Countries to the Developing stage. Themain target is to reduce the proportion of the population below the national poverty line to 18 percent from the present level of 23.8 percent.
"The 13th Plan is the continuation of the periodic planning process in Nepal which was started since 1956. Despite the transition and political instability in the country, NPC has been able to avoid plan holiday and has brought out the Approach Paper of the 13th Plan, which among others, has helped the country to plan achieving international commitments especially MDGs by 2015," said Purushottam Ghimire, spokesperson of the NPC.
The process of preparation of approach paper is too lengthy as it took more than six months to finalize it. A range of public consultations, both at the local and national levels, were held to acquire feedback in its formulation process. “Altogether, nine consultative workshops were conducted in different parts of the country. In addition, rounds of interactions were held with the representatives of political parties, line ministries, academia, private sector and the civil society. Moreover, suggestions of the development partners were also taken in this process. Thus, the consultation was made at different levels also engaging people from the grassroots to the national levels. The National Development Council provided valuable inputs in the Approach Paper and the final version is approved by the Council of Ministers. As such, the approach paper has incorporated major concerns and issues raised during the consultation processes,” said Ghimire.
Plans to spend a total Rs 1.62 trillion till 2015/16 are formulated in the paper. Of this, Rs 960.69 billion rupees will be spent to cover recurrent expenses, while Rs 277.94 billion will be allocated for capital spending. These expenses, according to the plan, would be met through estimated revenue collection of Rs 1.13 trillion in the three-year period, while the rest would be raised through domestic debt, and grants and loans from development partners.
Development of hydropower and energy sectors, productivity growth of agro sector and its diversification and commercialization, basic education, health, drinking water and sanitation, good governance, expansion of roadways, development of physical infrastructures, tourism and trade are the priorities of the upcoming three-year development plan, according to Shakya.
“The new three-year plan lays emphasis on increasing the economic growth and on agriculture and tourism,” said Dr. Rabindra Kumar Shakya, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission.
As the 13th Plan is prepared by the National Planning Commission, the country’s apex development body, with support from technical experts and consultations at various stages, including at the political level, there will not be any question on the ownership of the document. The 13th plan is Nepal’s document now.