The proposed draft Annual Development Programme for 2014-15 has been in the media. Nearly 2,000 projects will be undertaken which explains the budget size standing at slightly over Tk 79,000crore. What is interesting to note is that more than half the projects proposed have already got budgetary allocations and another 900 or so are in the pipeline for approval. The crunch will be felt for two-thirds of yet-to-be approved projects that are slated to be financed using own resources, where no bilateral agencies will be involved.
The power sector has received a lot of attention. No less than 15 new projects have been earmarked for foreign assistance that has the potential to generate nearly 5,000 megawatts (MW) of new power. A separate 1,200MW coal-based plant is being proposed to be set up in Matarbari costing around Tk40,000crore and will require substantial JICA involvement, which is yet to be secured. Given the dismal performance of private-public partnership projects in Bangladesh, we are somewhat surprised to note that no less than 17 major infrastructure development projects have been mentioned in the proposed ADP. These include the Dhaka-Chittagong Expressway, amongst others.
This year's ADP follows in the footsteps of last year's trend of oversized development programme budget. Indeed, what has been proposed is a full 1/3rd larger than the proposed budget of fiscal 2013-14. As was the question the preceding year, precisely how is the government going to implement the ADP when underutilisation of allocations has been a chronic feature of our budgetary management?