July 28: The government has appointed Dr Biswo Nath Poudel as the Vice Chairman (VC) of the National Planning Commission (NPC). The cabinet meeting on July 27 took a decision to this effect.
Poudel has completed engineering from China and holds a PhD degree in Agriculture and Resource Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Poudel was also an adviser to the NPC when Swarnim Wagle was appointed as its VC. He is also a member of the board of directors of Mid Tamor Hydropower Company, has worked as board member of Sanima Bank and financial advisor to the International Labor Organization.
NPC is a high-level body which forms national development plans. It is the central body that works on monitoring and evaluation of development projects, policies and programmes. As it facilitates the long term development of plans and policies, Poudel has a challenge to implement plans to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Shantaraj Subedi, former Finance Secretary, a qualified person has been entrusted with the responsibility of the NPC. He said that the government should firstly work on evaluating the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and formulate plans and policies accordingly to uplift the economy.
"It has been two years since the fifteen year plan has come into effect but it has not been implemented properly. So, the NPC should bring changes in it for its effective implementation. Poudel also has the responsibility to form work procedures to implement Sustainable Idea -2100," Subedi said.
Poudel has been raising his voices against the traditional development models and has questioned the existence of NPC in this regard. Subedi is hopeful Poudel will play a crucial role in restructuring NPC and formulating effective work procedures.
With the formation of the new government, Dr Pushparaj Kandel and other members appointed by the previous government have resigned. Along with this, the commission had become almost inactive without officials.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to appoint Ram Kumar Phuyal and Dil Bahadur Gurung as members of the commission under the leadership of Poudel. Phuyal and Gurung were members of the commission even in the previous government.
Phuyal had played a significant role in creating programmes to improve the social security system and encourage startups programs, while Gurung played a key role in digitizing agricultural systems, land and survey systems.
Although the government has appointed three people, including the vice-chairman, the planning commission is yet to get a full shape. The National Planning Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister, has a full-time Vice-Chairman and six members representing various areas of expertise. The government should appoint three more members to its full capacity.
Apart from the six members of the commission, a Civil Service Section Officer is also required to be a member secretary of the commission. Chief Secretary of the government and the Finance Secretary work as ex-officio members of the Commission. The member secretary of the commission also works as the administrative head of the commission.