Study finds that moving the planning cycle to 3 years is feasible
While the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) secretariat is currently reviewing the five-year plan system, a study has recommended that the government change the planning cycle from five to three years.
The study, conducted by a group of officials based at the Center for Bhutan Studies, concluded that it was possible to shorten the planning cycle to three years.
The study, which was published at the Center yesterday, claimed that despite the common perception that donor projects and government-funded activities should begin and end within the five-year plan cycle, there is evidence to the contrary. . “On the contrary, projects and activities have their own life cycle of varying lengths.”
After studying the budget and expenditure data for all the projects implemented in the 11th and 12th Five-Year Plans (FYP) to verify the actual implementation time of the projects, the study found that the average implementation time implementation of the plans was approximately 2.6 years, which is why the study concluded that a three-year planning cycle could replace the decades-old five-year planning system.
The data revealed that the majority of donor projects (77.4% of 11th FYP projects and 91.8% of 12th FYP projects) had implementation durations of less than three years.
“The three-year planning system will also provide the incumbent government with the flexibility to quickly integrate its development manifesto into annual plans and budgets,” the research found.
Today, 49 bilateral and multilateral development partners support Bhutan’s development activities through various projects. In the 12th FYP, donations represent about 20% of total expenditures and about 55% of capital expenditures.
The study also found that moving to a three-year planning cycle would make little difference, as the duration of all donor projects varies from one to several years within and between FYPs.
“Instead, donor partner strategies would adjust accordingly to the length of Bhutan’s plan period,” the study found.
During the 12th FYP, a total of 1,311 donor projects were implemented; more than 40% of the projects were implemented in one to two years.
However, the study indicated that a three-year planning cycle would require rigorous planning and an effective manpower to strengthen the policy and planning division of the GNHC, including local governments.
Alignment of the electoral cycle and the cycle of the plan
One of the main reasons for the need to revise the plans was the gap between the planning cycle and the electoral cycle, where the five-year plan is prepared by the incumbent government but is approved and implemented by the new government.
The study also found that the five-year plans did not match the election cycle due to the vacuum created during the caretaker government and that to align with the plan and the mandate of the government, the plan needs to move forward three months.
According to the study, a two-year plan cycle could also be an alternative, as future governments can implement a comprehensive plan.
“With this, the start of the two-year plan would not have to be brought forward to align with the mandate of a new government,” the study said. “Making changes to plans would be relatively smooth with a two-year plan system, as the time interval between one plan and the next would be shorter.”
He also claims that the plans’ budget forecasts would be relatively more accurate.
However, if a three-year plan cycle is adopted, the possibility of completing most projects within the plan period is higher, the study says.
In the meantime, the study recommended a separate institutional set-up for land use planning to respond to the landscape of progressive and inclusive land use planning in the country. “There is a need to strengthen the current land use planning system with the development of land use plans at all levels, including the local government level.”
The study revealed that there was a need for offshoots suited to the development needs of the modern world and bringing balanced regional development.
“There is a need for in-depth awareness on spatial planning for planners, especially at the local government level to have maximum participation and input from them. This would lead to inclusive and holistic planning,” the report states.
The Ministry of Public Works and Housing has drafted a Land Use Planning Bill which is expected to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.
Yangchen C Rinzin,
Center for Bhutan and BNB Studies.