--BY MADAN LAMSAL
Wishes, wishes and more wishes. That is how the National Planning Commission (NPC) has come out with the next plan for the country’s development.
Of so many commissions in Nepal, NPC stands out the most and so gets wide publicity. For decades, this commission has been formulating plans for the country’s development. It is no secret how much the country has developed over these decades. So, it doesn’t need further deliberations.
Recently, the NPC organised a grand national consultation and interaction in order to formulate the 15th five-year plan for the country’s development. The commission has organised such interactions many times in the past as well. The ritual was rigidly observed this time too. So-called development experts were there and there were so many Toms, Dicks and Harrys as well. However, most of the big investors of the private sector were nowhere to be seen at the grand event. It’s not immediately clear whether the commission did not trust them for the grand event or they did not trust the commission.
At the event, powerpoint presentations were made though participants could not find power or point in those slides filled with paragraphs of texts. Yes, numbers too were shown which seem to be derived by using complex mathematical modeling. Wow! What great policies and programmes the commission has for the country. Still everyone was jingoistic that government’s slogan of “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepalis” will surely come true.
In any case, the commission’s job is to make plans. It did just that this time too. With that, it has done its job. Now, it’s up to the agencies concerned what they want to do with the commission’s 15th Five-year Plan. The commission has also set the development target for the next five years. Setting such targets is the commission’s job. Whether such targets are met or unmet or how to achieve them is the job of other agencies!
Once the commission makes the development plan, whose job is it to implement it? The bureaucracy? No. What does it gain by implementing the NPC plan? Or what does it lose by not implementing it? Similarly, do the government, ministries and departments work to make the plan a reality? They are busy with their own plans, care freely occupied with their own things. Whose job is it then to work to realise the dream seen by the NPC?
As far as the belief that the private sector prepares its plans according to the targets set by the NPC goes, won’t it be suicidal for the private sector to depend on a government entity for plans? Who from the private sector has so far tried to match his/her own plans with the government plans? Is there any really successful example of the public-private-partnership (PPP) in Nepal? So, why would the private sector synchronise its plans with those of the government? For example, the commission might say the private sector has to create 500,000 jobs a year. But you cannot force the private sector to do that! After all, why would the private sector work as expected by the commission? In fact, this has become a great problem for the NPC. In other words, the NPC makes plans but those who are supposed to implement those plans are the least bothered about it. This is where the problem lies.
The NPC, the poor institution, on its part, wants to build a self-sufficient, strong and prosperous economy by capital formation through savings. Moreover, it aims to create a free as well as a socialism-headed economy! The commission also believes in the great thinking of managing import and promoting export. However, the problem is those who are supposed to promote export are doing everything but promoting export!
The commission has always set the targets. But what can you do when those who are supposed to meet those targets just don’t do it? Who should take action against them? Or what benefits do those meeting the targets get? No one has ever tried to decide these things so far. That’s why every periodic development plan made by the commission turns out to be a mere wish-list. It seems the porridge of prosperity and happiness that the NPC has been cooking for the past so many decades won’t be ready in our time too!