First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: In a major reshuffle to its earlier plans, the government is preparing to revise various goals that were set in the 15th National Plan as the COVID-19 contagion and subsequent nationwide lockdown have hit every sector in the country. The pandemic has literally left the economy in disarray and development targets now seem a distant goal.
Citing that the pandemic has set back efforts to achieve the targets envisioned in the original periodic plan, the National Planning Commission (NPC)—the apex advisory body responsible for formulating the national vision, periodic plans and policies—is assessing the impact of the pandemic on projects, investment and economy so as to revise the periodic plan goals.
Though NPC has acknowledged that the original targets of the periodic plan are not achievable now and need to be revised the commission is finding it difficult to carry out a concrete assessment of the effect that the coronavirus has had on the economy through which it could revamp its targets.
“Investment, business activities and development works have all been affected by the pandemic and different measures adopted to contain it. This certainly has and will further affect the economy and our development goals,” mentioned Pushpa Kandel, vice chairman of NPC, adding that a few goals set in the periodic plans now seem unachievable and discussions are underway to revise them.
The government had endorsed the 15th five-year periodic plan on March 3 with ambitious development and growth targets including raising the per capita income to $1,600 by the end of the five-year plan (2024-25). In fact, the government had even set a highly optimistic target of achieving an average economic growth of 9.4 percent per annum in the next five years.
However, the entire economy at present is in shambles due to the pandemic and the government is highly unlikely to achieve the growth targets. What is even worse is nobody is certain about when the virus will be contained and how long it will take for the economy to bounce back again. Also, the seven percent economic growth target that the government had set for fiscal 2020-21 has become improbable now as that goal was set with anticipation that the spread of the pandemic would be stemmed soon.
Another major target in the periodic plan that envisioned bringing down the poverty rate to nine percent from the existing 18 percent by the end of the five-year term also looks highly unfeasible at the moment.
The periodic plan had also envisaged that the country’s agriculture sector would witness an average growth of 5.6 percent per annum in the next five years. Moreover, there were expectations that the industrial sector would expand by 17.1 percent per annum and the services sector by 9.9 percent per annum in between fiscal years 2019-20 and 2023-24.
Kewal Prasad Bhandari, secretary at NPC, informed that the commission would carry out an assessment on the sectoral impact of the COVID-19 based on which goals of the periodic plan will be reworked. He, however, stated that carrying out a concrete impact assessment at present is not possible taking into consideration the way the pandemic has been spreading in the country.
“We are waiting for the pandemic to be contained before starting any evaluation of the economy and development work. The goals of the periodic plan will be revised following the impact assessment of the pandemic on the economy,” added Bhandari.
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