Interview with NPC vice-chairman, Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel
Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel is the newly appointed vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) — the apex policy-making body of the government. Before assuming his new responsibility at NPC, Pokharel was affiliated with the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC). He holds a PhD in Energy Economies and Policies.Pushpa Raj Acharya and Sagar Ghimire of Republica talked with Dr Pokharel on several issues related to development policy and practice. Excerpts:
You were recently appointed as the vice-chairman of National Planning Commission (NPC). What would be your main priority?
The main function of NPC is to advise and facilitate the government on formulation of periodic plan and the annual budget. My focus would be on suggesting to the government to allocate more resources on energy and infrastructure sector. Only then we would be able to attract more investments in the country. The government cannot build everything from its own resources; we have to mobilize resources from the private sector. We should be able devise plans in such a way that it fulfills the target set by the government and attract investment from the private sector. Private sector should feel that there is an enabling environment in the country. They should be assured that their investment would give them good return.
There is a lack of coordination between periodic plan and the annual budget. How do you plan to address it?
This year we will try to make an effective budget so that the government objectives can be fulfilled. Unfortunately, we have very little time left. NPC has prepared an approach paper which has set the target at macro-level. It would be an opportunity for us if we are innovative and more productive.
The government has set a target of graduating to the league of developing countries by 2022. Do you think the target is gettable?
It would be difficult to achieve the target with the resources we have at present. That means we need to mobilize resources from other sectors – the private sector and development partners. Investment pours into the country only when we are able to create favorable climate for businesses. More investment means more economic activities and more employment generation. We have to overcome impediments to infrastructure first. Only then private sector will bring investments.
Which model should the government adopt to bring more investment into the country?
There is no better model than the public-private partnership model to attract investment form the private sector. The main objective of the government is to enhance the livelihood of people living in different parts of the country. The government should utilize its available resources wisely to create an environment where other resources can come in. We need to prepare our annual budget accordingly. If the government invests one rupee, we should mobilize Rs 5 from the non-government sector. In that way, the development size will be five times more than the government’s annual budget.
Development partners have long been complaining about slow government spending and poor performance of the national pride projects. What do you have to say?
Implementation of some projects has slowed down because of weaknesses seen in the designs of those projects. We shouldn’t always put blame on the government. Our partners – the private sector and non-government partners – are equally responsible for timely completion of those projects.
The government has taken initiative to attract investment in mega projects through the Investment Board. What is your observation on it?
We’ve to enhance the Investment Board’s capacity and to make it strong enough to handle big projects.
Source : Republica