By Our Reporter
Forum of former International Professionals of Multilateral Organizations (FIPMO) organized an interaction programme on Nepal Development Vision 2030 in Lalitpur, Nepal on 12 September.
Chief speaker in the event, Dr. SwarnimWagle, Vice-chairman of National Planning Commission,presented his proposed approach towards preparing Nepal Vision 2030. Dr. Wagle noted that only interim short-term plans were put in place but no five-year plans were prepared since 2006. While some plans in the past worked well, most of the plans were ineffective. He emphasized that ministry-based sectoral planning would need to be reoriented thematically. Therefore, he suggested a longer planning horizon, coinciding with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr. Wagle outlined five tentative sections of the framework ofsuch a vision as follows(a) ends(b) trends(c) enablers(d) means and(e) risks and mitigation.
The framework identifies ends as prosperity generated, prosperity shared and prosperity sustained. Similarly, the vision would take into five evolving trends – atypical structural transformation, wide migratory flows, young demography, increased connectivity, and move towards a federalsystem of organizing political preference. In view of the stated ends and evolving trends, seven enablers were identified – digitization (opportunities to leapfrog on technology, e-governance, and financial inclusion); hydropower and other sources of clean energy; proximity to India, China, Southeast Asia, Middle East for economic gravity; availability of private and concessional financing; attractive geography and landscape diversity; history of community organizations; and Nepal’s brand value (through aid, diaspora and preferential market access).
Dr. Wagle identified nine means towards achieving the ends of the vision through enablers with the consideration of the current trends. The means are increased productivity, enhanced formality (institution of formal systems), wider connectivity; greater inclusiveness and effective governments; higherquality education; healthier population; fairer social mobility; greener economy; and stronger protection of natural and cultural heritage.
He also acknowledged that there are certain risks that need to be mitigated. Some of the key risks are geo-fragility, climate change, poorer federal governance, and neighborhood effects.
He concluded that the National Planning Commission is in the process of preparing a framework document
Dr. Sophie Kemkhadze said that the vision outlined by Dr. Wagle was aligned with the timeframe of the achievement of the United Nations SDGs, but the actual programme of the United Nations system is for a shorter duration (2018-2022) only as specified in recently completed United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The UNDAF is a joint programme between the UN system and the Government of Nepal. She mentioned that four outcomes are identified in the UNDAF:
(1) Inclusive economic development such as: (a) Agriculture; (b) tourism; (c) small enterprises will focus on training and financial services; (d) Gender equality and policy engagement; (e) unemployment and underemployment including marginalized will ultimately lessen.
(2) Social development covering: (a) Health; (b) basic education; (c) sanitation; (d) reproductive health, right, social advancement of children and female.
(3) Disaster risk reduction (DRR) such as: (a) environmental development in resilience; (b) disaster risk reduction and climate change; and
(4) Rule of law and human rights fields: (a) good governance; and (b) strong, transparent and accountable government to ensure people to have their power and claim their rights.
Individual UN programs are also supporting SDGs. She emphasized that they are interrelated and interconnected and UNDAF is totally aligned with the government’s plan, and supports the theme ‘leave no one behind’ as also enshrined in the Constitution of Nepal, and providing support to the government on Agenda 2030.
Gyan Chandra Acharya, who was High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Land-locked countries, and small island states, pointed that the preparation of SDG took four years that included a global conference of LDSs in 2011 and a conference of land-locked countries in 2014.
He highlighted five key themes regarding SDGs in the context of Nepal: (a) integration into national policies; (b) partnership; (c) resources (d) technology; and (e) governance.
The 17 SDGs capture social, economic and environmental goals, which are widely accepted by LDCs. Nepal is one of the countries that are committed towards the SDG. Partnership is crucial as the key theme is the enhancement of productive capacity of the developing countries. The partnership calls for strong national ownership and leadership, which should be complemented by international support and cooperation. Trade and investment play an important role in the achievement of SDGs, where the contribution of the private sector would be critical. Policies of the host government towards integration and adaptation are very important in order to attract resources from partners. The emergence of the second generation of connectivity and other technologies facilitate the efforts to a great extent. Finally, federal structure established to deliver public services is very important in the context of Nepal, as it devolves power to the lowest level.
Acharya concluded that there are many micro-dimensions of these issues unique to each situation, and cannot be generalized in one group of LDC. As a LLDC with geographic handicaps, Nepal has to develop its economic potentials in a strategic manner. However, certain prevailing constraints in the context of Nepal would need to considered and tackled for better-planned development. These are:
(1) Stick to stable priorities with a long-term consistent plan and agree on the pathways to reach them;
(2) Commit to transparency and accountability to promote good governance
(3) Put in place strong monitoring system so that there is an effective implementation; cost of delay and inaction is too high,
(4) Avoid frequent shifts in development policies and programs.
Dr. Bindu Lohani shared his experience of development in some key nations in Asia in the past 3 – 4 decades and its relevance in the context of Nepal’s aspiration to become a middle-income country by 2030. He noted that Asia had 60% of world’s economy in 1800s, but declined significantly in the next 200 years to about 15 %. It picked up after the Second World War, through the efforts of Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, and at present, Asian economy is closer to 30% of the world. He explained five stages of development followed by the Asian countries in the path to become middle income (lower and upper) and high-income countries (knowledgeeconomy). In that process, they focused on diversification from agriculture to simple manufacturing, heavy industries to high tech and to creative economy. He also mentioned the lessons to be learned from the countries which have remained in middle-income trap for decades and how that should be avoided.
Dr. Lohani pointed out that some countries in Asia took about 25 years to reach upper middle-income stage, and about 35 years to reach high-income stage. Therefore, Nepal’s aspiration to become lower middle-income country (about GNI $ 1030 per capita) by 2030 appears possible but the country should aspire for higher GNI (not the lowest GNI benchmark used for being a middle income country)
Finally, Dr. Lohani felt that there are enough lessons to learn from the development trends of the countries in Asia and the paths followed by countries in becoming a middle-income country and a high-income country. But each country will need to make adjustments in its own context.
In the beginning, FIPMO Chairman Dr. Suresh R. Sharma extended welcome remarks to the distinguished speakers and audience. He noted that organizing the interaction of this kind was one of the activities that FIPMO supports. Briefly explaining about FIPMO he mentioned that it is an organization of Nepalese experts who served the UN and other multilateral organizations, and have earned a wealth of expertise and knowledge that could be useful in the benefit of Nepal and its People. They are eager to ‘give back’ to their roots.
FIPMO Vice-chair Ms. Chandni Joshi extended vote of thanks on behalf of FIPMO to the speakers for their excellent presentations. She also thanked the Representative from United Nations system in Nepal and Asian Development Bank who were present in the event also expressed their opinion. Finally she also thanked the FIPMO members and families for their participation and flattered the EC members for their excellent teamwork.