What is the significant in the Thirteenth Plan?
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 a plan holiday and has brought out the Approach Paper of the 13th Plan, which, among others, has helped the country to achieve international commitments, especially MDGs by 2015.
How were the issues taken from the grassroots level? Can you explain the modalities of finalizing the plan?
The approach paper was not ready in a week, it took more than six months to finalize it. 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 done 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 consultations were 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 process.
Will the next government take its ownership?
During the consultation process, both at the regional and national levels, representatives of various political parties actively participated and provided valuable inputs to refine the objectives and strategies. In addition, NPC has briefed the top leaders of the major political parties about the process and progress of formulating the document. They appreciated the efforts carried out by the NPC. So I believe that the elected government, whoever comes to power, will take its ownership and continue with it. Even more, this is a policy document which is dynamic in nature, meaning that there are chances to refine it while preparing the detailed version of the Plan. I would like to quote the Finance Minister that "the programmes proposed in the budget for the current year will be acceptable to the elected government in the future as it was formulated in line with the approach paper for the upcoming 13th plan.”
What are the targets of the Plan?
The Approach Paper has a vision of graduating Nepal from the status of LDC to a Developing country by 2022. In line with the vision objective, strategies and targets of the Plan have been set and sectoral priorities have been identified. Thus, all development activities, efforts and resources are focused and allocated in order to achieve the goals. The main target of the plan is to reduce the proportion of the population below the national poverty line to 18 percent from the present level of 23.8 percent in the three-year period. The present government has expressed commitments to achieve the goals and you might have noticed that the current year’s budget is also based on this approach paper so as to contribute towards achieving the target.
Don't you think that vision/target is very ambitious and difficult to achieve?
The proposed vision, though it looks like moderately ambitious, is achievable, if high level of commitments is there and sufficient resources are allocated in priority areas. The six percent growth per annum is not an unattainable target if there is political stability and commitment from the political leaders to acquire coherent and cooperative effort of all actors, including the private sector, cooperative sector and NGOs and civil society organizations. Increasing domestic resource mobilization, creating enabling environment for the private sector investment and mobilizing external resources in areas that directly contribute to achieve the goals are extremely important in this regard. Many of our development partners have appreciated and have shown their commitments to help Nepal to achieve the goal. I have not seen the resources constraint but what we need is our commitments to make productive use of those resources.
Has it shifted the priorities?
The priorities are not shifted though it is more focused than in the past. If you see the priorities set in the Approach Paper and those in the budget speech they are consistent with each other. Energy and hydro-power, agriculture, basic health and education are the top priority areas which are according to the needs and demands of the country. Promoting governance is equally important to achieve the goals so that it is also one of the priority areas. The priorities are inter-linked and complement each other. All priorities aim towards reducing poverty incidences and developing the infrastructure.
What is the sector-wise allocation of budget?
Allocation of resources also matches with the priorities set in the plan. Thus, naturally, education energy, health, rural development are the sectors which get more resources. In addition, if you see the budget speech of the Finance Minister, he clearly mentioned that National Pride Projects are getting top priorities and assured the sufficient budget to timely complete them. There are four new national pride projects added this year and a total number of such projects reached 21. Thus, the budget is allocated according to the need, priorities and demand of the people in order to improve their livelihood and the overall development of the country.
How does the interim plan address what were raised by RIO+20?
The Outcome of the RIO+20, Conference, "The Future We Want" in June 2012 recognized the serious constraints that the LDC's face in achieving sustainable development. Sustainability in all sectors of development is the key concern of the RIO outcome documents. The Fourth UN conference on the LDCs held in Istanbul May 2011, adapted in IPOA for the LDC's for the decade 2011-2020. The overarching goal of the IPOA is to overcome the structural challenges faced by the LDC's in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable graduation from the LDC category. The IPOA also sets ambitious goals of "enabling half the numbers of LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020. In this background, the Approach Paper of thePlan also focused andhave borrowed the concept of its long term vision "Nepal will be graduated from LDC's to DC by 2022 which is in the line of IPOA and RIO Principles.
Has interim plan a special concern over climate change?
Government of Nepal has introduced climate change budget code in this budget which shows that about 5.8 percent of total budget is directly related to climate change adaptation and about 4.6 percent is indirectly related with environment and climate change and other natural conservation and preservation, which comes to about 10 percent of the total budget. This is the great commitment from the government which is in line with the commitments made at the international level on sustainability and climate change issues. Now the international community and development partners should support Nepal on climate change issue which has already started in order to save people livelihood, mountains and water tower of Asia.