KATHMANDU, August 3: The government has appointed young economist Dr Swarnim Wagle as the Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC).
A cabinet meeting held on Thursday decided to elevate him to the post of Vice-Chairman of the country's apex planning and policy making body. Dr Wagle has been serving as a member of the NPC since 2016, punctuating his previous stint as its member from May 2014 to November 2015.
Dr Wagle said he plans to develop the NPC as a vibrant body capable of bringing an integrated development vision through a complete overhaul of the body in the context of the country embracing federal structures. "My priorities will also be to bring about an integrated policy framework to help Nepal graduate from the group of Least Developed Countries by 2020, achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and transform Nepal as a middle-income country," he told Republica.
Dr Wagle in his capacity as the chief of NPC has a plan to hold orientation programs in planning and budgeting works at the province level in order to help implement the federal governance system. "There are many bottlenecks in infrastructure development in Nepal. My priority will also be to help introduce appropriate policy measures to remove those bottlenecks," he announced his plan.
Dr Wagle also plans to develop sectoral plans for various sectors including climate change, trade, investment and social security. "We have experts from different fields at NPC. We will work together to introduce sectoral plans for economic reforms," he further said.
A young economist in his forties with expertise on macro economics, public finance and international trade, Dr Waglé has earned a wide international recognition in his career as an international development professional for more than 15 years on policy assignments in over 20 countries, most recently as Senior Economist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He has also undertaken short-term assignments at the Asian Development Bank (Manila) and the World Trade Organization (Geneva).
Wagle had co-led the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) after the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015 and helped garner billions of rupees in reconstruction and rehabilitation of the quake-hit population in the country.
A man of academic excellence, Dr Wagle holds a PhD in Economics from the Australian National University, an MPA in International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard University, and a BSc (Economics) from the London School of Economics. He had stood board second in the then School Leaving Examination held across Nepal in 1990.
Dr Waglé has published several flagship reports and academic papers in areas spanning public finance, trade, investment, and the impact of macroeconomic and social policies. At the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), he co-authored the 2013 Human Development Report titled "The Rise of the South," and co-led from 2002 to 2007 the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Initiative, a research and policy advisory program on WTO negotiations. Having also been the South Asia editor of Harvard Asia Quarterly (1999-2000), Dr Wagle has most recently co-authored two chapters in Contemporary Asian Perspectives on South-South Cooperation.