KATHMANDU, May 15: President Bidya Devi Bhandari presented the government’s policy and programs for the fiscal year 2020/21 at a joint meeting of the federal parliament on Friday.
The government has brought the policy and programs with an aim to fulfill its goal of ‘Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali’ while addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the socio-economic aspects of the country.
Here are the highlights of “this government’s” policy and programs for the upcoming fiscal year.
COVID-19 FREE NEPAL AND HEALTHY NEPAL
The government has made the plan to make Nepal a coronavirus free country its present and top priority. For that, the government will strictly follow precautionary measures, expand testing, manage and mobilize medicine, COVID-19 equipment and health workers including doctors. Likewise, the government has reiterated its commitment to avoid casualties from the virus. Nepal has confirmed 267 cases so far, with no deaths yet.
To tackle the impacts of the pandemic, the government will improvise the quality of health services and education, agricultural and industrial production and expedite the development works. In the post-COVID-19 period, the government plans to prepare the strategies and action plans and conduct special regional programs targeting those who lost jobs due to the pandemic and lockdowns.
The government’s key health policy is building a “Healthy Nepal”. To achieve the motto, the government plans to take vaccination programs to each and every ward, upgrade the healthcare facilities, and build and standardize hospitals (of 5 to 15-bed capacity) at each local level.
Likewise, the existing provincial hospitals will be upgraded to 25-50 beds capacity and the zonal hospitals to 200 beds. Paschimanchal Regional Hospital in Pokhara, Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, Koshi Hospital in Biratnagar, Narayani Hospital, Bharatpur Hospital, Bheri Hospital and Dadheldhura Hospital will be upgraded into 500-bed hospitals. Similarly, Trauma Centers will be built along the major highways in the country and integrated ambulance services will be expanded. Health programs relating to preventive and curative facilities will be launched while expanding immunization programs to all 753 local units across the country from the existing 671. Also, the government has planned to construct the Infectious Diseases Hospital in all seven provinces. Currently, there is only one such hospital at Teku- Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital. The government also plans to include every Nepali citizen in Health insurance policy within the next three years.
The government plans to announce Nepal a literate country next year. The government will ensure all the schooling level students get enrolled in schools and complete at least secondary education. The physical infrastructure and teaching facilities of all public educational institutions will be reformed under the President Educational Reforms Programs. Likewise, public school empowerment decade campaign will be launched; all the community and technical education schools will be developed into well-facilitated organizations; and high-speed internet will be made available to all the public secondary schools and campuses.
SEED MONEY TO RETURNEE MIGRANT WORKERS
Qualified labor, respect of work, self-employment, suitable wage, management of labor with social security will be the government labor policy.
In its bid to lure the returnee migrant workers to self-employment, the government is giving seed money to them from the upcoming fiscal year. The government will provide seed capital to initiate enterprises to the skilled and experienced entrepreneurs, innovative youths and to the returnee migrant workers. Capacity development, technology transfer, financial access and marketing would be tied up with the programs and existing programs would be restructured to expand in all states to realize such enterprises.
Likewise, the educated unemployed youths will be given project-based initial funding on the basis of their certificate and they would be motivated to develop ‘project’ to run a business related to their education as far as possible. Likewise, Prime Minister Employment Program will be incorporated with other programs of employment sectors and will be implemented as the unemployed-targeted campaign. Labor information bank will be established by further developing the employment service center and employment management information system existing at all local levels. The labor audit will be made more systematic through the labor inspection system.
The government is committed to its motto “Nobody will be hungry and nobody will die of hunger”. To end hunger, the government will manage employment and run income-generating programs.
The government will introduce the campaign “Let’s use our own product, encourage internal production”.
Agriculture and agriculture-related industries will be developed as the key areas of employment. Infrastructures required for the development of agriculture will be developed.
The government will establish Industrial Village in 45 local units in the new fiscal year 2020/21. Works have been initiated in those local units to set up the industrial villages to promote industries in an integrated manner by using local labor, skills and resources. The government has accorded high priority to the industrial sector and would expand the industrial villages as per the need of the local units and feasibility.
DIPLOMATIC INITIATIONS AND REPRINT POLITICAL MAPS
The government has committed to returning the encroached lands with effective diplomatic measures. The government has further made commitments to reprint the political maps of the country by incorporating Limpiyadhura, Lipulek and Kalpani as these territories are not in the existing political map of the country. The border disputes with neighboring countries would be resolved following the historical treaties, maps and other evidence. She added that the government is determined to protect geographical territories and borders.
PETROLEUM PIPELINE EXPANSION
The government has planned to expand the petroleum pipeline from Amlekhgunj to Lothar, Chitwan for easing the supply of petroleum products. The feasibility study on Silgudhi of India to Charali of Jhapa will be forwarded. The construction of petroleum depots will begin in Chitwan, Jhapa and Sarlahi, while there will be gas bottling plants in Jhapa and Dhanusha.
The government has planned to complete the reconstruction of structures damaged by the devastating 2015 earthquake within the upcoming fiscal year 2020/21. Potential and appropriate production centers will be determined to easy the supply of construction materials by making policy and legal arrangements. So far, 495 thousand private houses have been rebuilt while the reconstruction of 402 of the 753 archaeological heritages damaged by the earthquake has been completed.
The government plans to complete the remaining works of the peace process and the transitional justice system. Arrangements will be made for the treatment of the injured of the people’s movement and the decade-long conflict. Technology, training and financial access will be made available to provide employment and self-employment opportunities to the people injured and rendered physically handicapped in course of the past movements and conflict.
Likewise, all the security bodies, including the Nepali Army will be made professional, capable and highly motivated by providing the necessary resources, while the security personnel shall be made proficient by providing regular training.
Similarly, necessary preparations will be completed for operating the National Defence University and the production of military hardware would be increased at the national level. Also, the ‘national unification trail’ will be conserved and protected; the National Planning Commission (NPC) will be centered on evaluation and research of development policies, programs and projects.
The government also plans to conduct the national census, the national living standard measurement survey, industrial census and happiness survey next year.
The government will give priority to infrastructure development including road, bridges and water supply in the next fiscal year. It is stated that the basis would be created for production sectors as agriculture and industry, for promotion of employment and for the development of energy, road, irrigation and urban infrastructures to contribute to high economic growth in the coming fiscal year. New infrastructures would be built in places lacking essential infrastructures and the capacity of the existing infrastructures would be expanded and their quality and standard improved.
It is stated in the policy and programs that 3,663 kilometers road has been blacktopped and 325 bridges constructed after the formation of the present government. In the next fiscal year, 300 bridges would be built and 155 kilometers of the Madan Bhandari Highway would be blacktopped. The construction of this highway would be completed within five years.
Similarly, the East-West Highway would be developed into a four-lane express highway. The construction of Kathmandu-Tarai Fast-track would be completed within the next three years. Ninety kilometers of the Kaligandaki corridor highway would be blacktopped in the next three years while the track of the Koshi and Karnali corridor roads would be opened upgraded. Construction of one-kilometer section of the 2.68 kilometers Nagdhunga tunnelway would be completed.
The initial works for the construction of the Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu railway and the Birgunj-Kathmandu railway would be started. Construction of the Kakarbhitta-Inaruwa section of the East-West electric railway project would be started. Public transport would be made passenger-friendly, convenient, reliable and secure in the next fiscal year. The government would promote electricity-driven transportation system. Transport Authority would be set up to regulate the transportation system. Towards water transport, preparation has been made for operating Nepal’s own flag-carrier ship up to the sea via the internal waterway of India. Legal provisions would be made for operating Nepali ship for international trade from the next fiscal year. The Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali waterways would be developed linking them with India’s internal waterway.
Energy and water resources have been given major priority in the government’s policy and programs for the next fiscal year. Programs have been brought to support the implementation of the ‘Bright Nepal’ concept initiated by the government. The government’s policy and programs includes construction of some big projects aimed at building one megaproject in each State. The government aims to produce 3,000 Megawatts electricity within the next fiscal year. The total installed power in the central grid at present is 1,386 Megawatts. Electricity has been made available to 852 thousand households in the last two years since the formation of the NCP-led present government. There is the target of having total electrification in all States in the next two years. Similarly, 200 solar mini-grids would be installed in areas where the national grid and extension system has not reached.
An integrated water resources policy would be prepared for the multi-dimensional utilization of water resources. Special work would be carried out for development of the energy sector. For this, like in the previous year, the government will keep the ‘Nepal’s Water, People’s Investment’ program in special priority and move ahead the development of hydroelectricity projects accordingly. Twenty-one projects have been included in this program. Similarly, the government will start the construction of the 1,200 Megawatts capacity Budhigandaki project and the 750-Megawatts capacity West Seti project. Both are national pride projects. Similarly, the construction of Tamor and Dudhkoshi reservoir projects would be started in the next fiscal year. The construction of the multi-purpose Pancheshwor reservoir project would be started by preparing its detailed project report after necessary agreement with India.
The government has also given priority to the construction of internal and inter-country transmission lines in its policy and programs for the next fiscal year. Construction of Hetauda-Dhalkebar-Inaruwa, the Kaligandaki, Marsyangdi, Koshi, Bheri corridor transmission lines have been prioritized. Similarly, construction of the 400-kV capacity Lapsiphedi, Ratmate, Tanahu, Butwal transmission line would be started. Construction of transmission lines above 66Kv capacity has been given priority with the target to construct 5,730 circuit kilometers of the transmission line.
Likewise, the topic of making the necessary initiative for power trade with Bangladesh and India is also included in the government’s policy and programs. Charging stations would be constructed on the highway for the promotion of electric vehicles. River diversion project would also be started keeping the irrigation projects in special priority.
It is stated in the government’s policy and program that construction of the Sikta, Bheri Babai irrigation projects would be completed in the next fiscal year. The western main canal of the Sikta Irrigation Project would be brought into operation and irrigation would be expanded to 7,500 hectares land by expanding the branch canal of the Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project. Works on the expansion of the main canal of the Mahakali Irrigation Project and the Praganna and Badkapath Irrigation Project would be expedited.
Construction of the dam and tunnel of the Sunkoshi Marin Diversion Project would be started with the target of providing irrigation facility on 122 thousand hectares of land in State-2. A ‘prosperous Tarai Madhes special program’ would be implemented for irrigating additional 18,500 hectares of land by using the surface and underground irrigation system in the agriculture pocket areas of the Tarai-Madhes region. The study would be carried out for the development of Tamor Chisang, Madi Dang and Kaligandaki Tinau diversion projects and move ahead these projects on the basis of feasibility and priority. Works on the Triyuga river control would also be forwarded.
The government’s policy and programs state that the agricultural production would be doubled in the next 10 years by pooling the government, public, range and uncultivated land. Last year’s policy and the programme had envisaged meeting this target in five years. As per the government’s data, nearly 3.1 million hectares of land is uncultivated. It is stated in the policy and programs that the production needed to be doubled by utilizing the uncultivated land to the maximum extent to meet the food shortage, to provide work to the unemployed youths, to reduce dependency on agriculture produce and to minimize the foreign trade deficit. It is estimated that nearly 2 million youths are unemployed.
The government has adopted the policy of modernization, commercialization and mechanization of the agriculture system through the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project. The policy and programs has set the target of attaining self-sufficiency in paddy, wheat, maize, fresh vegetables, meat and fish in the coming 10 years. Six million metric tonnes paddy is required to feed the country’s existing population. Five million two hundred thousand metric tonnes paddy was produced in the country this year. Similarly, 900 thousand metric tonnes of wheat and 1.2 million metric tonnes of maize is produced annually in Nepal. The government has also prioritized making agriculture an income-oriented, self-dependent and dignified profession, improving the agricultural roads, modernization of the Agriculture Knowledge Centres and enhancing the access and supply of agriculture inputs.
The government has given special priority for the revival of the tourism sector of the country which has been badly dented by the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic. For this, tourism revival and sustainable tourism programs would be implemented.
It is stated in the government’s policy and programs for the fiscal year 2020/21 that the government had to shelve the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign initiated with the objective of bringing in 2 million tourists due to the impact of COVID-19. The tourists arrival is found to have reached 1.1 million.
The runway of the country’s only international airport, the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, has been repaired and upgraded after 40 years. This airport would be fully developed into a boutique airport in the next year. Similarly, construction of the Nijgadh International Airport in Bara, a national pride project would be started. The airport would cover an area of 8,000 hectares and it would have a 3,600 meters long and 45 meters wide runway.
It is stated in the policy and programs that the under-construction Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa would be brought into operation from the coming fiscal year. About 90 percent of the physical construction works of this airport are completed. This airport has 3,000 meters long and 45 meters wide runway. Its estimated cost is about Rs 7.32 billion. The construction of Pokhara International Airport would also be completed within the next fiscal year and preparations would be made to bring it into operation soon.
The runways of additional eight domestic airports have been blacktopped so far and night flights have been operated from eight airports. Construction of two more domestic airports would be completed next fiscal year. The runway of three more airports would be blacktopped.
Basic level drinking water would be provided to 94 percent of the population in the next fiscal year. Drinking water would be reached to all households within the next three years with the joint investment of the federal, State and local level governments. Works have been expedited for the completion of the Melamchi Water Supply Project to meet the water demands in the Kathmandu Valley at the earliest. The entire construction of this project would be completed within the coming fiscal year. The government will carry out a detailed study on the development of wholesale distribution system and reservoir type water supply system based on the Mahakali, Karnali, Babai, Koshi and other rivers for making the supply of potable water sustainable.
INDUSTRIES BASED ON FOREST PRODUCTS TO BE PROMOTED
Similarly, it is stated in the government’s policy and programs for the next fiscal year that the government established 1,829 small and cottage industries based on forest products in the last two years. In the coming fiscal year also, the government plans to conserve forests as per the policy of multi-use of forests by minimizing the environmental risks by means of forest protection, massive afforestation program and forest diversification. It is stated that domestic timber production has increased which has helped reduce timber import by 20 percent. Forty percent forest is being managed by the community. The government has brought several programs for the development of the forest and environment sector. The infrastructure for herbs processing industries would be developed in all the States.
(Inputs from RSS)