Utilisation of foreign aid rose 9.36 percent year-on-year to $1.87 billion in the first five months of 2018-19, the amount being one fourth of the whole year's target of $7.5 billion.
The utilisation is yet to get momentum, as it usually remains slow at the start of a fiscal year, according to an official of the Economic Relations Division (ERD). The enthusiasm centring the upcoming national election also played an important role to slow down the use of foreign fund, the official said.
The utilisation is expected to reach close to this year's target in the second half of the current fiscal year when a new government will take the helm.
On the other hand, the ERD has started collecting data for the revised foreign aid utilisation target for this fiscal year. The ministries and divisions have been asked to inform the ERD if they are unable to meet their utilisation target for this year. The official said the ERD would revise their foreign aid budget at the start of the next year as per the demand.
The ministries and divisions last fiscal year utilised a record amount, $6.1 billion, which was double the amount they managed each year between the fiscal years of 2012-13 and 2016-17.
However, foreign aid commitment from development partners slumped by almost half in the first five months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period previous year.
This time the foreign aid commitment was $3.82 billion, down from $6.71 billion in the previous year.
The figures were higher last year, as big amounts were committed by two bilateral partners in the last couple of years for a number of mega projects, said the ERD official.
It is unlikely that the foreign aid commitment this year would be the same as in the previous two years.
“We are now giving more emphasis on the implementation of the aid that is already piled up in the pipeline,” he added. Before 2009-10, Bangladesh used to receive aid commitments of $1-$2 billion every year. From 2009-10, the amount jumped to $5 billion and it went on to hit $7 billion in 2015-16.
But in 2016-17, the amount more than doubled thanks to Russia's commitment to the Rooppur nuclear power plant project.
That year, foreign aid commitment hit $17.96 billion. Last fiscal year, the country received foreign aid commitment of $14.86 billion with $4.35 billion and $4.5 billion coming from China and India respectively.
Thanks to the huge amount of aid commitment, unused foreign aid in the pipeline stood at $48.75 billion at the end of November, up from $44.51 billion on June 30.