Plan Performance In Nepal Effective Implementation Needed
A review of last year’s plan performance reveals that our capacity to implement development plans is very poor, characterised by starkly low utilisation of the resources. This has resulted in diminished outcomes in building infrastructure and physical assets, critically needed for the development of the country.
In order to make our development planning more result-oriented, it is essential that our capacity to utilise resources be enhanced. Otherwise, our development plans will remain limited on paper without having any meaning for the lives of the people.
Needless to say, in least developed countries like Nepal, economic planning is the tool for development. The tool of economic planning for development has been used in Nepal for the last six decades. The philosophy of economic planning could be broadly classified into two categories, that is indicative planning and imperative planning.
Indicative planning is mostly used in countries where the free market economy has been adopted. Indicative planning sets the targeted rate of growth for the economy as a whole for a specific time period. In this type of planning, the role of the private sector and civil society is important.
On the other hand, imperative planning is a fully state administered kind of planning. This sort of planning functions within the hierarchical framework of the state machinery. This was more popular in the socialist countries. But now this has been gradually abandoned. Nepal follows a mixed type of planning process where the role of the public, private and civil sector has been recognised for development.
However, it is agreed and recognised in Nepal that the development planning process should start with a perspective plan. The perspective plan embodies an assessment of the country’s long term development outlook. Then should come the periodic plan followed by the annual plan. Any way, the total activities of the government should reflect in the plan document.
Nepal has already implemented more than a dozen periodic development plans, but most of the plans could not achieve their targets. The reason why plans for development fail in Nepal is typically diagnosed by Swedish economist Gunar Myrdal who earned reputation worldwide for his famous work ‘The Asian Drama’.
He mentioned that poor technology, underdeveloped institutions for enterprise and development, imperfections in the authority of the government, centralised governance system, corruption, low efficiency and standards of integrity in the public administration are the major impediments to development.
With a view to addressing some of the issues and challenges pointed out above, Nepal initiated the move towards instituting a decentralised development planning process so that the local development projects are executed efficiently and effectively. The Local Self-governance Act, enacted in 1999, conceived the decentralised planning process, starting from the settlement level moving up through the VDC, DDC to the national level.
It is popularly known as the 14-step planning process, in which the involvement and participation of the community, government and civil society stakeholders is expected. Since last year, the central government has divested itself of the responsibilities for petty local development projects, published in what is known as the Rato Kitab (Red book), which used to be sanctioned through lateral interventions.
Moreover, the District Development Committees, municipalities and even some of the capable VDCs have formulated their periodic plans and conceptualised their annual plans with reference to the periodic plans. However, the planning process has been totally disrespected, and projects evolved from the grassroots that are based on the genuine needs of the people have been shelved and sidelined.
The big shots at the decision-making level and powerful politicians control and override the defined statutory planning process and plan their own pet projects to support their respective constituencies. As mentioned above, the planning process has been rendered completely dysfunctional in Nepal.
There is no mechanism and process to strike a linkage between the country’s needs and planning so that appropriate projects are identified and selected and resource is allocated accordingly. The planning process is not only centralised but also personalised. The political leaders, bureaucrats and those who can dictate the official channels can make the planning wheel move, as a consequence of which projects are misallocated and resources are misused in larger proportion.
In theory, Nepal has adopted the bottom up planning process, and the projects prioritised by the people at the VDC, municipality and DDC levels to meet their needs and aspirations should form the basis of the national plans. But the whole process has been turned into a mockery, allowing the crafty politicians and rapacious bureaucrats to meddle fully in the planning mechanism and system. The projects recommended from the villages and districts are thrown into the dust bin. Unless the whole planning system is revamped and reoriented, Nepal’s development endeavours will not only be hurt but completely blocked.
The federal polity should take care of it so that there would be no conflict among the different tiers of the government. What is required in this context is strict adherence of the principle of subsidiarity, where the different spheres of the government execute their functions autonomously subject to the competencies provided in the list of the Constitution.
The development projects should be formulated in a very realistic manner with the provision of adequate resources and technical support and monitoring so that the projects planned at different levels are executed effectively.