- Saturday | 10 Apr, 1993
- Policy Briefs/Papers
The Eighth Five Year Plan (1993-98) is being launched at a crucial period. While the overall objectives of planning remain the same, namely the enhancement of social and economic welfare in the country, they are being pursued at a time of fundamental change in domestic and global economies. Most notable of these is the redefinition of the government's role in the economy, particularly as regards the balance between the public and private sectors, and consequently, a total re-orientation of economic planning.
Besides this, there are a number of unique factors, favourable as well as adverse. On the positive side is a high degree of business confidence, generated in part by recent initiatives in the areas of structural reform (liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation), human resource development (the Social Action Programme, SAP), environmental conservation (the National Conservation Strategy, NCS), and community development (the National Rural Support Programme, NRSP). Some optimism has also been produced by the recently concluded UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) regarding the possibility of enhanced international support for sustainable development initiatives in southern countries.
On the negative side, the economy is under pressure because of persistent deficits in the government budget and the balance of payments. A second source of concern, which also contributes to the resilience of the twin deficits, is the debt overhang in domestic as well as foreign sectors. A third factor is the generally inhospitable international climate. Prospects of foreign resource inflows have diminished because of diversion to former socialist economies, the trend rate of workers remittances has declined sharply in the last few years, and world trade prospects are affected adversely by sluggish growth in northern economies and the slow progres in the Uruguay Round of Trade Talks. Finally, the poor quality of the social and physical infrastructure has become a serious obstacle to economic development.