Development Projects: Where disorder reigns supreme

The planning ministry yesterday expressed disappointment over frequent amendments in projects, one after another missed deadlines, and the directors’ absence at project sites.

Implementation of projects gets delayed because of this, said top officials at a meeting of secretaries from all ministries and divisions.

In many cases, one person is becoming the director for as many as eight or nine projects while officials design the project without properly testing its feasibility.

The officials said the health ministry’s performance in implementing the Annual Development Project for 2019-2020 fiscal as well as the last few years has been the worst.

The planning ministry in a working paper for the meeting said that the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved 18 amended projects worth Tk 51,113 crore under nine ministries in June and July this year.

“On an average the cost of these projects increased by 34.86 percent. In some cases, cost increased by 100 percent,” said the working paper.

Revised ADP implementation was slow in 2109-20 fiscal. All ministries and divisions managed to spend 80.45 per cent of the money allocated in the revised ADP budget of Tk 2,01,198 crore.

Most of the projects are designed small in the beginning, but with time, the project expands and the cost rises. Meanwhile, people get deprived of the services, said the working paper.

Although the Ecnec directive asking for proper feasibility tests and technical designs are barely followed. “As a result, the projects need multiple extensions.”

Planning Minister MA Mannan at a virtual press briefing said, “Rules are ignored on some occasions.”

The rules that one person cannot be the director for multiple projects and that the director should not be transferred were often ignored, he said.

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at the meeting reminded the secretaries that if the rules and regulations are not honoured properly, there are provisions for punishment.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Ahmad Kaikaus asked all officials to emphasise on spending foreign funds while implementing the projects.

“Large amounts of foreign money are now stuck in the pipeline in the absence of timely spending,” he said.

When the planning minister was asked about the procurement of nine expensive vehicles and the leasing of 600 cars for Covid-19 response, he said that the cars were needed by the government officials.

“There should be cars [for a project]. It is an instrument of the project,” he said.

He added that cars are rented under projects because many doctors and nurses need to be picked up and dropped off at hospitals and homes during the pandemic. The provision for renting vehicles will be no longer effective once the pandemic is gone.


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