Experts warn the government think tank against donor funding for policy research

August 29, 2021

They made such a recommendation during four rounds of interaction recently held by the Policy Research Institute, a government think tank

Kathmandu: Experts have asked the Policy Research Institute (PRI), a Kathmandu-based policy think tank of the government of Nepal, not to accept external funds for policy research. They made such a recommendation during four rounds of interaction recently held by PRI.

As many as 570 experts from a variety of disciplines participated in the interactions which were a part of ‘policy dialogue,’ which PRI undertakes regularly to discuss burning issues for policy research, finetune research ideas, disseminate knowledge products and explore areas of collaboration with experts, according to the press statement issued by PRI.

Experts shared their assessment of the current state of policy research in Nepal, suggested improvements on the policy front as a whole and offered how their expertise could be mobilized for policy innovation in Nepal.

“With the delay in enacting policies as per the constitutional spirit of the socialism-oriented polity,” said an expert, “the federal system of governance has failed to deliver effectively. Federal and provincial governments are even at odds on some crucial governance issues.” PRI should immediately research, he added, what prevents Nepal’s policy community from developing policies in the spirit of the constitution of Nepal.

Pointing to policy inconsistency as the main problem besetting Nepal’s development, another expert lamented: “We, as a nation, have a bunch of good policies awaiting implementation. However, we rush to develop new policies every time there is a change of government.” This is frustrating, he said, and urged PRI to take this up seriously.

Nepal lacks an enabling environment for foreign-trained experts to utilize their expertise, complained a female expert. “We have returned home after our training but are sitting painfully idle getting no space to apply our skills,” she said. “Shouldn’t there be a policy to make use of the expertise available for the nation’s development?”

One reason why most of our research products have gone unimplemented, argued another expert, is our dependence on donors for the policymaking process that starts with problem identification. “A problem identified by donors and the solution prescribed by them may not be compatible with the need of the day and the reality on the ground,” he said. “PRI should refrain from repeating this mistake,” he added. “It should not accept external funds for policy research.”