PRI hold the concluding round of interaction with policy experts
On 25 August 2021, PRI held an interaction amongst policy researchers and experts registered in the roster which PRI has been preparing as per Clause 17 of its Formation Order. In the roster are over 570 experts from different fields of public policymaking, including research, knowledge management, public advocacy and communication.
The meeting was held virtually as per PRI’s plan to organize a series of meetings to explore how the expertise in the roster can best be mobilized in policymaking and other related tasks. Around 95 experts (out of 120 invited) participated in the meeting and shared their ideas and perspectives for PRI’s consideration. The key points that have emerged from the interaction include the following.
- The impact of Covid-19 has been very harsh on school children. Private schools and a few public schools in the cities have been running online education. However, children in rural areas have not had these opportunities evenly. There should be an educational policy addressing this problem.
- If we do not change the existing procurement policies and systems, our infrastructure development expectations will continue to suffer. We should develop an alternative to the current system of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder. This classical development model will only ruin us.
- Low capital expenditure is another problem of our development endeavours. Nepal’s fiscal policy is responsible for this and the policy should be changed. Unless the level of capital expenditure increases, we will see no improvement in developmental outcomes.
- Almost 25% of the country’s total population is landless. The majority of them are Dalits, which constitute around 13% of the country’s total population but hold only 1% of arable land. Access to arable land is the main factor behind the persistence of inequality and discrimination. We have to have a separate policy addressing this issue.
- What language we use to undertake research and communicate the outcomes also has policy implications. If policy recommendations are vague or incomprehensible, they affect no change. PRI should be careful about this aspect. It should offer its policy recommendation in a manner and tone that is comprehensive to our parliamentarians, who are policy-makers.
- In many countries in the West, there are agencies to support the drafting of legislation, an important policy document. In Nepal, we do not have such support. As we are exploring options for policy innovation, we should also explore ways to support the legislative drafting process.
- After joining the WTO regime, we harmonized around 45 laws without questioning whether such harmonization was in our interest. We have not been able to harness the benefits that we are entitled to as a member of WTO. Our trade deficit is ballooning every year and we have not been able to exploit the WTO platform to mitigate the deficit.
- Election manifestos of political parties are the source of policies the parties wish to enact and implement when they form governments. Unless the manifestos are based on reality and have achievable targets, the policy they will influence will be vague or completely unimplementable. To check the policy paralysis that Nepal risks heading to, PRI should engage with political parties and help them develop realistic manifestos.
- Cultural heritage is the treasure and identity of a nation. However, there is no policy consistency concerning the preservation of this heritage. Where policy exists, lack of implementation is an issue. This should also be PRI’s area to intervene. If we fail to protect our cultural heritage, we fail our identity.