Eighth Five-Year Plan: The same wine in the same bottle

The eighth Five-Year Plan ignores the devastating effect of the Indo-Nepal impasse on the economy. Is it possible to plan for the next five years pretending that the economy has been unaffected? Until the impasse ends, it is doubtful whether planning for more than a year at a time is meaningful, especially with regard to the fulfillment of basic needs. A divorce from planning and budgeting is a natural phenomenon in which unprecedented pressures can exist on price levels, revenue mobilisation, wage and salary levels, balance of payments, and the exchange rate, etc. The way the economy has been mismanaged, it would not be unreasonable to expect the GDP to slide for two to three years before it looks up again.

As an economic document, the planning dimensions lack hard-core analysis. There is no debate on the feasible growth rate of GDP and its consequences on savings, gaps in investment ratio and balance of payments, revenue, GDP ratio, ICRS, labour, capital and land productivities, etc. As a political document, it does not tell us how politics will itself be fortified to face the challenges. In particular, how will the bureaucratic and political absorptive capacities used to implement plans will still be made effective, efficient and honest? How will the government's deteriorating finances be arrested by measures other than the rhetoric of privatisation?

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Himal Southasian