The government might perhaps find some way out of the bloody six-year-old Maoist insurgency to save face at the meeting of the Nepal Development Forum to be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara between 4-7 February.
Representatives of donor agencies and countries will not find it hard to figure out the impact of the deteriorating law and order situation of the country-the absence of tourists will be visible on Kathmandu streets, and in unoccupied hotel rooms and airplane seats. The concern over terrorism will perhaps hijack the other agendas at the development meeting.
At The Paris meeting of the Nepal Development Forum, then Finance Minister Mahesh Acharya had promised big achievements to lure the donors into investing about Rs 1.25 billion for 2000-2001. Nepali representatives had presented various immediate, short-term and long-term plans at the meeting, identifying as major areas of work-controlling the insurgency and improving the law and order situation, implementing corruption control measures, revamping the bureaucracy, increasing investment in the prioritised sectors etc.. Similarly, the government promised to implement poverty reduction measures such as increasing employment opportunities, increasing investment in social development areas such as education, drinking water and gender development, developing rural infrastructure and decentralising public expenses within a year.
At that meeting, the government also assured donors that it would strengthen tax and customs collection, improve finance management, have mid-yearly budget evaluations and timely evaluation of donor-funded projects, encourage the participation of civil society and create a friendly environment for foreign investment in the banking sector and so on.
Right now, officialdom is busy making preparations for the upcoming donors' meeting. The government will focus on getting support for the finalisation of the tenth five-year plan document and also nail down specifics of the administration's poverty alleviation strategy. Nepali officials will also work to garner donor support for the annual budget revision and foreign aid policy.
The government has already constituted a permanent committee under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister to discuss the proposed official agendas with parliamentarians. In order to facilitate the discussion procedure, a co-ordination committee and a technical committee will also be formed. Various ministries will get involved and prepare papers on decentralisation, administrative reform, financial sector reform, private sector and civil society participation, rural development, agriculture, education, health, privatisation, infrastructure development and water resources development. The government will also organise an exhibition on the theme of development at the Nepal Development Forum meeting.