Barbara Talks Series I

Rapid Economic Transformation in Nepal: What Will It Take and Where Do We Start?

On October 16, 2017, Barbara Foundation launched Barbara Adams Talk Series, with its maiden episode concluded with an energizing deliberation between distinguished panelists amid enthusiastic audience.

The show was titled “Rapid Economic Transformation in Nepal: What will take and where do we stand?” and panelists included distinguished guests – Hon. Gagan Thapa, MP and Former Minister of Health; Krishna Gyawali, Former Secretary, Government of Nepal; Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Vice-Chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC) and board member, Barbara Foundation; and, Yogesh Bhattarai, Secretary, CPN (UML). TV journalist Dil Bhusan Pathak moderated the discussion.

In the two-hour-long program, the panelists arrested the audience’s attention with discussion on potentials of Nepal’s economic development, the course it should take, and inherent challenges.

The speakers stressed that having settled major political issues over the past years, the only course ahead for the country is to focus on achieving economic progress and prosperity.

MP Gagan Thapa pointed that among the several sectors that the country can tap to expedite economic development is manufacturing sector. He said that economic transformation is not an easily achievable process that Nepalis will see suddenly fulfilled one day, but the one that will take long time and dedication, and that it should start immediately.

He stressed that it is the political parties that should initiate discussions to mainstream the development agendas and governance, but that the parties have fallen behind in fulfilling this responsibility.

UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai said the political issues that spanned for over half a century and created hurdles for prosperity have now been resolved, and therefore it is now time to take steps in the path of economic transformation.

The country is in the brink of historical transition, he said, of having discussions that are centered on development from one focused on politics. He noted that in spite of differences among parties in their path, their goal is a common one of prosperity through economic transformation.

Former secretary of Nepal Government, Krishna Gyawali said the path to prosperity can be navigated smoothly only when the politics-bureaucracy nexus ends and political parties and bureaucracy develop mutual trust and supportive environment.

He suggested that waiting for the political stability to dawn to expedite development will only cause more suffering to Nepalis.

Suggesting that Nepal’s bureaucracy has improved over the years, he attributed corruption among bureaucrats to dishonest intention.

NPC Vice-chair, Swarnim Wagle suggested that a revamping of the NPC was needed so it can work more efficiently for development. He said that at the moment NPC is not planning in the real sense since it mostly gives a nod of approval to the plans proposed by ministries after slight modification. He pointed to the need of executive role to its members to take forward the commission’s mandate since lacking executive role is limiting the work of apex planning body.

Although he applauded the positive strides Nepal has made towards politics, inclusion, education, health and social security, he pointed that the country still struggles in assuring quality of the services rendered.

He said the country has a tentative work plan for meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 and its targets. Maintaining a sustained growth rate of 7-8 percent together with remarkable performance will take Nepal to the level of today’s Sri Lanka, while unstable performance will take it close to today’s Bhutan.

According to him, conditions like political stability and better governances determine the performance in ‘conditional targets’.