The Fifth National Development plan (FNDP) is a medium term planning instrument intended to focus government’s policy and programming towards a desired objective or objectives set in a specified timeframe. In the current situation, the timeframe has been set for six years, commencing in 2006 and concluding in 2011. The six-year planning period of the 5th NDP has been adopted as a result of the three-year budgeting cycle of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). Therefore, the instrument will be designed in such a manner as to ensure that it is result based, formulating national development strategies within a realistic annual and medium term budget process. Keeping in line with the policy of decentralization, as recently announced, and in reaffirming government’s commitment to broad based consultations, it has been decided that planning and the subsequent budget process will be extended to the district level. To this effect, preparations towards the development of district strategic plans commenced in the third quarter of 2004.
The immediate rationale for preparing the NDP is that the implementation of the first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP-2002-2004) came to an end in December 2004. In addition, the Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP- 2002-2005) comes to an end in December 2005. Zambia therefore has no comprehensive planning instrument for 2006 and beyond.
In an earlier environment, during the decade of the 90’s, lack of a development plan would not have been perceived as problematic. It was then firmly believed that the private market mechanism had an adequate capacity to allocate resources efficiently, and that it was self-adjusting. Since minimal value was placed on national planning, greater emphasis was instead placed on annual budgeting. The annual budget was then executed within the context of several policy and program targets that existed independently and in an ad-hoc capacity in line ministries and sectoral initiatives. However, in the late 90s, there was a rethink and a realization by government that the annual budget was not a sufficient tool for long-term national development planning. That perhaps the market mechanism needed a little assistance.
The genuine repositioning, which resulted from the observable negative consequences of lack of planning, coincided with the movement of global opinion towards the development of poverty reduction strategies. The global movement towards PRSP was necessitated by the introduction of the HIPC initiative and the need, thereafter, to ensure that the released resources are channelled towards poverty reduction programmes. This coinciding of events created an environment for which the pivotal role of medium term planning was, yet again, placed at the center of the national agenda. Hence, Zambia developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) to cover the period 2002 to 2004.
In additional to the PRSP, the Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) was also prepared to cover the period 2002 to 2005. The rationale of preparing a TNDP was due to the observation that the PRSP was not sufficiently comprehensive, as it did not including all aspects of Goverenment policy and programming. It is here important to note that from the inception of the TNDP, it was envisaged that a fullyfledged national development plan would eventually be prepared. Hence the Fifth National Development Plan.
LINKS WITH EARLIER INITIATIVES
The basis upon which the NDP is being prepared is in acknowledgment that there is no need to reinvent the wheal. That the policy and programme formwork, as designed through the consultative process of both the TNDP and the PRSP is still valid. Invariably, the new plan must then combine the essential elements of both instruments. It is for this reason that government, in consultation with cooperating partners, decided not to prepare a second generation PRSP, but to instead support a home grown initiative, which is to encompass all salient aspects of the PRSP, other government policies, plans and operations. The approach towards a comprehensive plan is also in part a result of the recognition that too many planning instruments have existed at the same time and that this occurrence has tended to confuse programme implementation as well as their support by the donors.
One of the primary aims of the process, therefore, will be to integrate all the mini plans currently existing and merge significant aspects of their policies and programmes in to the 5th National Development Plan. The objective here is to go beyond just the PRSP and the TNDP. Consequently, it was decided early in the process that it was necessary to ensure the development of a comprehensive instrument that will include and involve, the domestication of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), The Brussels Program of Action for Least Developed Countries, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and other international initiatives. Nationally, the intention is to include studies and initiatives that have already made policy and programme recommendations, such as the Private Sector Development Plan (PSD), Indaba Resolutions, National Diversification Master Plan and the recently launched Decentralization Policy. Included in this bracket of initiatives are line ministry strategic plans being developed as well as studies done by interest groups, NGOs and cooperating partners.
The National Development Plan will, especially ensure, that it is strongly influenced by initiatives such as the Public Sector Reform Programme, and the Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accounting Reforms (PEMFAR).
THEME OF THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Since the process began, Goverenment, through the Department of Planning and Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, has been preoccupied to make recommendations towards the theme and focus of the plan. Given the resolution that the essential element of the PRSP/TNDP should remain, our proposals for the theme have included the following:
- Aiming at achieving Pro- Poor growth and development with equity.
- Achieving Pro- poor growth, job creation and equity.
- Achieving pro-poor growth through rural development and technological
- Startegic Focus of the NDP
- The proposed Strategic Focus has received the following suggestions:
- Regionally balance rural Development.
- Provision of accessible quality social services.
- Provision of affordable infrastructure.
- Advancement in science and technology and,
- Achieving Public Safety
Within the context of the above theme and strategic focus, it is being proposed that the priority will be on the economic sectors of Agriculture, Tourism, Mining, Manufacturing Transport and communication. In the Social Sectors, focus will continue to be on Education, Health and Public Safety. The thrust of the plan should then be within the confines of regional development. The thread that will bind all of these implement able policies and programmes shall be the thread of Governance.