07 Dec 2012
Mr. Ajay Chhibber, and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Robert Piper during the meeting with Nepal’s Prime Minister Mr. Baburam Bhattarai. Credit: Bikas Rauniar/UNDP Nepal
Mr. Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific concluded his two-day visit to Nepal urging the government leadership to find a way to end political instability before it begins to affect the entire economy. Expressing UNDP’s continued commitment to assist Nepal in its development efforts, he offered to do more—including pushing Nepal’s case for more concessional access to climate financing.
Mr. Chhibber was here to assess Nepal’s development situation. During his visit, he met with the Rt. Honorable Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun, Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank Yubaraj Khatiwada, Officiating Chief Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, Nepal based international development partners, members of UN Country Team and other senior government officials. During his meetings, he expressed concern over continuing political instability and its potential adverse effect on the economy. “Nepal’s economy has managed to grow despite political instability. But international experience suggests it is very hard to shield the economy from political uncertainty forever,” Mr. Chhibber said.
In his meeting with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, the timing of the elections and UN electoral support were discussed. The PM expressed confidence that elections would be held in May and requested UN support to hold these in a free and fair atmosphere.
Mr. Bhattarai and Mr. Chhibber discussed many issues including different development models, climate financing, and infrastructure and energy development. PM. Bhattarai urged the UN to advocate for greater international development assistance for infrastructure and energy development.
“Much of the development assistance in the past has gone into soft areas,” Prime Minister Bhattarai said. “We now need greater attention to infrastructure and energy development.”
While agreeing with the Prime Minister, Mr. Chhibber argued for a judicious balance between social and infrastructural sectors for economic growth. Nepal’s hydropower potential will be beneficial for both Nepal and the world and a strong case can be made for greater access to concessional climate financing.
Prime Minister Bhattarai informed that his government was planning to organize an Economic Summit in the spring next year. The UNDP Regional Director offered to help bring together renowned economists and planners in Nepal for the Summit.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha reiterated Nepal’s commitment to the UN’s charter and goals. DPM Shrestha stressed the need for the UN to be further strengthened. While expressing his gratitude to UNDP for its continuous engagement in Nepal, he echoed Prime Minister Bhattarai’s call for a new post-conflict reconstruction with focus on economic development. Mr. Chhibber praised the Deputy Prime Minister for Nepal’s leadership of the Mountain Initiative and in promoting the interests of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Mr. Chhibber also met with Officiating Chief Election Commissioner Dolak Bahadur Gurung and Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav and discussed UNDP’s assistance to the Election Commission of Nepal. Mr. Gurung expressed gratitude for UNDP’s support and requested additional assistance, including for coordination of donors and support for creating a conducive environment for election. On 29 November, UNDP and the Election Commission of Nepal signed a project document to implement the second phase of Electoral Support Programme (ESP II) for next fours.
In his meeting with Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun, Mr. Chhibber encouraged Mr. Pun to convene a meeting of the Nepal Development Forum in order to have a long-overdue high level dialogue with donors. He stressed the need for Nepal to take advantage of new climate change funds as well as making its own national budget climate-friendly.
On Thursday Mr. Chhibber also jointly launched Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2012 with Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission Deependra Bahadur Kshetry. Speaking during the launch he called on the countries in the region to balance economic growth with reduction in emissions. “Growing fast now and cleaning up later is no longer an option,” said Mr. Chhibber. “Asia has an opportunity to grow fast, reduce poverty but with a much smaller carbon footprint.”
Operating in Nepal since 1963, UNDP Nepal is currently supporting more than 20 projects and programmes in the areas of Transitional Governance; Inclusive Growth & Sustainable Livelihoods; Peace Building and Recovery; Energy, Environment and Natural Disaster Management; and HIV/AIDS.
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