Pandemic derailed development works. Planning minister is buckling down to get it back on track | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 10, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:56 AM, August 10, 2020

Pandemic derailed development works. Planning minister is buckling down to get it back on track

The government has decided to prepare a roadmap to ensure full implementation of the annual development programme this fiscal year after development expenditure fell to a 27-year low in fiscal 2019-20.

"The ADP implementation was slow last fiscal year but none of us was responsible for it," Planning Minister MA Mannan told The Daily Star yesterday.

Development activities came to a screeching halt after the government was forced to implement a countrywide shutdown from 26 March to rein in the rising COVID-19 caseload in Bangladesh.

For the next two months, when spending typically heats up to show a flattering result for the full year, ADP implementation was virtually on recess.

While spending was back on track in June, soon after the shutdown was lifted on 30 May, it was not enough to prevent the lowest ADP implementation rate since fiscal 1993-94, data from the Implementation Monitoring Evaluation Division (IMED) showed.

The ministries and divisions managed to spend Tk 161,857 crore in fiscal 2019-20, which was 80.45 per cent of the total allocation for the year.

Mannan is now determined to make up for lost ground such that Bangladesh's development ambitions are not derailed any further.

He has decided to convene a meeting of the secretaries on Thursday to formulate a roadmap, said an official of the planning ministry.

During the meeting, the minister would instruct the secretaries to put in stronger effort to make up for the holdups caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The development budget for this fiscal year is Tk 205,145 crore, which is 6.3 per cent more than last year's.

"ADP is the government's main investment programme. So, the secretaries have to identify the obstacles so that the government can remove them and accelerate the implementation," Mannan said.

Projects directors don't remain present at the construction sites all the time. As a result, monitoring is found wanting most often, he said.

"The secretaries are largely responsible for this. They will have to make sure that projects under the ministries are carried out smoothly," he added.

The planning ministry would instruct the secretaries to embark on implementing projects in full swing from September. Development activities usually retard in July and August for monsoon.

The meeting would also discuss the issues of cost- and time-overruns of projects, a regular phenomenon in Bangladesh, the official said.

Speaking about mega projects, Mannan said the economy would receive a major boost once the priority projects are implemented.

"The secretaries should be careful so that the mega projects don't face any more delays."

The construction of the projects such as the Padma bridge, Payra deepsea port and Karnaphuli river tunnel has been going on despite the pandemic, he said.

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