Embedding the NATIONAL PLANNNIG COMMISSION within the Office of Prime Minister

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In the last decades, the level of global poverty has been steadily declining but according to a recent report published by the World Bank, the latest achievements risk to be overshadowed by another global phenomenon, the rising of inequality.

In its flagship report, “Tackling Inequality” published by the World Bank in October as part of The Poverty and Shared Prosperity series, the Bank urges prompt action by governments around the world to bridge the increasingly big gaps between those who are lagging behind at the bottom of the pyramid and those who have been benefiting from the latest decades of unparallel economic growth.

According to the report, there are around 100 million fewer extremely poor people than in 2012 thanks to progresses achieved in the Asia Pacific region with countries like India, China and Indonesia performing the best.

Yet as stated by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, “It’s remarkable that countries have continued to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity at a time when the global economy is underperforming—but still far too many people live with far too little,” making the case for an aggressive push to lower down the levels of inequalities and injustices still faced by millions of people around the world.

The report suggests a series of public policies to lift up the most vulnerable and disadvantaged persons, helping them to climb the economical ladder towards shared prosperity, one of the global goals set by the World Bank.

Universal health coverage, universal access to quality education, cash transfer to poor families, rural infrastructures and progressive taxations are listed out as key domains of action to empower and give a sense of agency to those who are still left behind.

Some of the proposals are well suitable to be considered also for Nepal and actually many of them are already being studied and piloted in different parts of the country.

Think of the attempt of offering citizens with a national health insurance that is being tried out in few districts or think of studies about conditional cash transfers or ideas about replicating massive rural infrastructures plans that give a guaranteed number of days of employment to large number of persons living in poverty.

The National Planning Commission is the leading agency to formulate and coordinate new policy actions but the real implementation, a key problem in Nepal as well as in many other developing countries, lies with line agencies, the ministries.

The decision of the Modi administration to reform the national commission and turn it into the National Institution for Transforming India or NITI Aayog that assumed a role closer to those of a think tank, generated also some initial plans in Nepal to reform our National Planning Commission.

The fact that you do not read any headlines nowadays about reforming the National Planning Commission might be either because the plans have been slowed down and are a low priority or that have been completely shelved.

The National Planning Commission could actually continue to play the role of formulating new policies, coordinating their implementation but also can, if provided with adequate resources, stimulate new conversations about national priorities in the same ways NITI Aayog is doing by organizing national lectures like is happening in New Delhi.

We should not forget that the Commission is part of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, (OPMCM) and the Prime Minister, who as its Chairman, delegates the day to day management to the Vice- Chairman who leads a group of member secretaries, each of them, entrusted with sector wise responsibilities and therefore separately dealing with the ministries of their competence.

It is common knowledge the existence of a gap between planning carried out at the Planning Commission level and what is actually implemented at the ministries level.

One possible way to overcome this situation is to even further strengthening its link with the Office of Prime Minister, a de facto separate entity, ensuring a direct day to day working relationship between the officials supporting the work of the Prime Minister and those at the National Planning Commission.

With a stronger unity and better coordination, the Commission can play a better role at serving the Prime Minister who should be in a position to track more effectively the implementation of all key projects and initiatives.

There is certainly space for improving the work of the National Vigilance Center, another body under the Prime Minister that looks at cases of corruption and malpractices, somehow overlapping with the Commission for the Investigation against the Abuse of Authorities, CIAA.

To ensure the effective delivery of government actions, we need to set a new and ambitious goal of strengthening, through stronger and better coordination, the Office of Prime Minister, even by visioning a new office who takes over the functions of the National Planning Commission and those of the National Vigilance Center.

Because the role of Prime Minister in this early stages of republican power is and will be focused on forging political deals with the parties to implement the constitution and other national priorities linked to the conclusion of the Peace process, we should have a strong First Deputy Prime Minister who effectively oversees the day to day implementation of the national developmental priorities.

Coordinating a new empowered Office of the Prime Minister, resulting from the merge of the current OPMCM with the National Planning Commission and National Vigilance Center, the appointment of a “National Development” First Deputy Prime Minister could make a real difference on how the country is governed.

Answering and reporting directly to the First Deputy Prime Minister, a revamped senior officer overseeing the functions currently held by Chief Secretary and those of the Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission, effectively a day to day Chief Operating Officer of the national development, ensuring an increasing level of shared prosperity among the population.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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