My Cabinet colleagues,
Vice Chair of National Planning Commission,
Vice President of the Asian Development Bank,
Distinguished Participants, and
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to address this august gathering here today, to envision Nepal’s socio-economic development in the next 15 years. I am also very encouraged to see such a high-level participation, including eminent scholars and policy makers from across the world, and a wide spectrum of leaders, officials, and professionals from the Nepali society. This event is taking place at the right time of our sole attention and efforts being geared towards economic development and prosperity along with the promulgation of constitution. The promulgation of constitution has ended the phase of struggle for the Rights successfully.
I thank the National Planning Commission for having initiated Nepal’s long-term development discourse in the new national and global context.
Nepal is on the threshold of change—a change for the better Nepali lives. As the Constitution has heralded a new era of people’s sovereignty, democracy and fundamental rights, political empowerment of the citizens has been secured. The main task before us is to empower the people through the implementation of the economic and social agenda enshrined in the Constitution. This would be possible through structural transformation of existing economic and social institutions, production relations, and social values. We have to accomplish this task with strategic reorientation of our existing development policies, plans and implementation mechanisms. While doing so, we need to chalk down a long-term development strategy which will guide our development for the prosperity of Nepali people.
I am confident that events like this will provide an opportunity for us to learn from success stories and best practices of our friendly countries and shape up our own development strategy.
Nepal’s unique geographical location between two most populous and rapidly growing economies of the world, abundant natural resources including water, biodiversity and landscape, growing educated and skilled labour force, widening and deepening connectivity within and across borders, and international cooperation provide us the opportunity to move faster in the path of strong, self-reliant, and prosperous economy.
Time has come now to unleash these potentials through credible domestic economic policies and international cooperation. In this context, I would like to recall my recent state visits to our neighbouring countries, which have opened up new avenues for bilateral and trilateral cooperation for accelerating our development and uplifting the lives of our peoples.
You will agree with me that Nepal has tremendous economic potential, such as in high value agriculture and agro-industries, hydropower, and tourism. Nepal’s liberal taxation, trade, investment, and foreign exchange regimes provide vast opportunities for foreign investment while the large markets across the border offer huge export potentials for the agro and manufacturing products. The potentials for tourism are even higher with large and growing middle class across the border. Now is the time to seriously start materializing these untapped potentials with much more vigour and passion, which are now available with conclusion of political transition.
Let me also mention that Nepal aspires to graduate from the status of least developed country as soon as possible, and this is only possible with expedited economic growth.
For this to happenour annual investment must at least be doubled; we have to build essential infrastructure including transportation, communication, and electricity. Focus must be on addressing the crippling energy crises that hold key to unleash rapid growth of many industries, as well as on connectivity to reach all Nepali villages within the country, and the vast markets of the neighbouring countries.
Our government is making best efforts to meet basic electricity demand within a year and ensuring sufficient electricity within two years. Our effort to widen and deepen connectivity within and across the border through transportation networks is taking a shape with the initiative of implementing strategic road network within the country and with the agreements made with our neighbouring countries for the development of electricity, road and railway networks across the border.
We want to use this opportunity to bridge or link the connectivity between our two neighbours India and China – Nepal being the transit point for their trade in goods and services.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A key and urgent agenda before us is not only accelerating economic growth but also making the growth equitable, employment intensive, and sustainable. In this respect, I recall our commitments to achieve by 2030 the Sustainable Development Goals – briefly known as the SDGs. Whilewe would be implementing programs designed to achieve the SDGs through periodic plans and annual budgets, we expect higher level of global cooperation for financing the development programs and building national capacities to deliver. This will definitely require a convincing and credible long-term development strategy based on the SDGs and our collective efforts to mobilise all available resources, including the knowledge resources.
And, this conference will definitely provide a platform to share such resources.
Over the past decade, despite prolonged political problems, Nepal was able to reduce poverty, achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, and makesignificant social development particularly in health and education. However, we have yet to fully address the existing inequality. As the Constitution of Nepal mandates us that nobody, irrespective of their origin of place, caste, ethnicity and gender, should not be left out of the development process; the long-term development strategy should now embrace such a development model which ensuresa balanced and sustainable development.
This is, I believe, extremely necessary for economic development with social justice.
The recent earthquake has unfolded our vulnerability to natural disasters and the need for higher efforts to disaster risk reduction including preparedness and response to disasters. As we are working hard to provide relief to the victims of earthquake and expediting reconstruction with the principle of ‘build-back-better’, we also feel that long-term strategy towards disaster risk management is urgently needed.
I urge the National Planning Commission to ensure that the long term development strategy being formulated in the spirit of sustainable development be mindful of the disaster risks – also being triggered by climate changes.
As we know that the risks of climate change and its implication on sustainable development can only be addressed through global cooperation, I want to mention that Nepal will make its sincere efforts to join hands with the global community to cope this challenge. Our efforts towards harnessing renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, promoting climate change responsive development activities, and discouraging unsustainable consumption are some of the steps in this regard.
Let me also mention that after I assumed the Prime Minister’s position, we have started several actions towards long-term development.
To promote sustainable agriculture, a 20-year Agriculture Development Strategy has been approved by the cabinet and is ready for implementation.
In the power sector, an action plan on national energy crisis prevention and electricity development decade has been launched, to eliminate load shedding within 2 years, remove transmission bottlenecks, and produce 10,000 MW of electricity in the next 10 years with focus on alternate energy sources including solar and wind.
The government has also come up with several strategies to make development environment friendly. I do hope that the long-term development strategy being formulated will encompass all these works and integrate the initiatives towards achieving the development goals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, Nepal is at an important juncture in its history that will determine our future wellbeing. We should seize the economic opportunities for early graduation from the least developed country, achieving the SDGs by 2030, and becoming a middle-income country by 2030.
To ensure timely achievement of these goals, the government is determined to craft a comprehensive long-term development vision and socioeconomic development strategy, termed as “Envisioning Nepal 2030”.
I understand that this seminar is a first major step towards preparing the vision. We want to make this vision inspirational and futuristic, capturing the aspiration of the common people and arousing their enthusiasm and ambition, and instilling in them a sense of confidence – with a “we can do” attitude and spirit.
It should motivate all segments of society to greater efforts to collectively achieve the common goals. The vision will also help synchronize actions of the government, the private sector, the cooperative and community sector, and civil society organizations.
I hope, this seminar will set the tone for a strategic visioning exercise. I assume the vision preparation will be participatory, where different groups of stakeholders from different parts of the country contribute their innovative ideas. I request our distinguished and well-wishing experts to share with us the experience and lessons from the development process of their own countries and advise how Nepal can accelerate socio economic transformation. I am confident that we will immensely benefit from your insights and advice. I wish the conference a grand success.
(PM KP Oli’s statement during International Seminar on Envisioning Nepal 2030 held in Kathmandu on March, 2016)