A Look AtGovt’s Policies & Programmes

 

KushalPokharel

Abiding by the practice of announcing its annual policies and programs before the budget, the President presented this document at the parliament this week. However, this time the five year roadmap of the annual plan has appeared contrary to the previous years. Backed by the strong majority, the government of the recently unified Nepal Communist Party has drafted an ambitious looking annual program generating debates and discussions both within and outside the parliament. Despite few amendment proposals registered in the parliament, the program has already been passed by the majority – an indication of the unparalleled capacity of the present government to make crucial decisions.

Major Elements

Marking next year as the foundation year for prosperity, the government intends to expedite the development process. Among the major elements highlighted in the document include doubling the present per capita income and generating 5000 MW of electricity in the next five years. The double digit growth of the country’s economy is the target for the next fiscal year but the document is mum on the concrete strategies for the same according to the former Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission. Moreover, investments in big infrastructure projects have been accorded a top priority. In the list of other milestones are doubling the agriculture output by adopting modernisation and commercialisation techniques, reducing land fragmentation and the productive uses of the arable land. Interestingly, the Finance Minister has also reflected on his white paper acknowledging some mistakes related to the economics data and information.

Arrangement of digital public services to citizen is a really fascinating element in the policy. Movement of the majority of the population in the agriculture to the non-agriculture sector within five years is also the highlight but has been found to be contradictory with the government’s objective of prioritising the agrarian based economy.

The resolution of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ is profound in the document. With a vow to introduce progressive and innovative programs, the government’s plan also aim to incentivise the private sector in an attempt to recognise its contribution in the national economy. Heralding legal, institutional and procedural reforms to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is pretty much on the cards.

Perhaps the most important pledge is the launching of the Prime Minister’s Employment Program that aims to reduce the flow of international labour migration from the country. At a time when the problem of unemployment is getting severe, the effective implementation of such initiative will be important to accelerate the growth of the national economy.

Following the announcement of the annual policies and programs, the Nepali Congress party has strongly criticised the government’s plan for being abstract and lacking focus. In a bid to prove its role of a critical opposition, the NC has resorted to the conventional method of making negative comments about the document to prove its stronger presence. This is really unfortunate on the part of the Nepalese politics where the culture of appreciation is hugely missing.

Inspite of some lapses in the present economic program of the government, the NC should have sought to play the role of a constructive opposition and cooperate to implement the government policies. Meanwhile, the members of the civil society including economists and development experts among others ought to think positively so that they can lend support to the government to materialise its vision.

But the present scenes are just the opposite. We have heard the prominent economists criticising the government for being ambitious and myopic. How about offering inputs to the government to implement what is already laid out in its plans instead of engaging in negative comments all the time? Won’t that help in reducing poverty and drive the country towards the path of socio-economic transformation? Pondering upon these questions is important.

With the unprecedented public votes received in the recent elections, the leftist government can definitely envision a prosperous Nepal under its leadership. With the tenure of the government tentatively fixed for five years, it can definitely deliver provided that the team of ministers work with compassion and integrity. In this sense, crafting an ambitious plan can’t be regarded as a vague approach simply to ridicule the public.

Participation

Having said that, the policy drafting process could have been more inclusive and participative by inviting experts, civil society members and other party leaders for stakeholder consultations. And the priorities of the government could have beencrystalised.

An opportunity still exists for the government to reflect on the current policy paper and think creatively for the formulation of the national budget for the next fiscal year. Since the annual policies generally form the basis of the fiscal policy, the government will definitely present the elaborated form of the same program but if it can do so by taking inputs and suggestions from the civil society and the people in general.

 

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