Tk 2,492cr projects to fight COVID-19 to get nod today | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:39 AM, June 02, 2020

Tk 2,492cr projects to fight COVID-19 to get nod today

Two projects worth Tk 2,492 crore chalked out as part of the government's plan to fight the pandemic will be tabled in today's meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec).

The World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have decided to join hands with the government as both of them have set aside a $100 million fund each to implement the projects during April 2020 to June 2023.

The first one -- COVID-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project -- will have a budget of Tk 1,128 crore, of which Tk 850 crore will come from the WB and the rest from the government.

To support the project, the WB approved a fast-track $100 million financing on April 3 to help Bangladesh prevent, detect and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthen its national system for public health emergencies.

The project will be rolled out nationwide to help upgrade selected health facilities and laboratories to detect, manage and treat suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases and support screening in Bangladesh's designated health facilities and entry points.

It will benefit people with suspected and confirmed infections, at-risk populations and medical and emergency personnel, as well as public and private service providers, medical and testing facilities and the national health system, according to the planning ministry officials.

This project will support the implementation of Bangladesh's national plan to respond to the pandemic.

Moreover, it will help strengthen the country's response by ensuring that effective surveillance and diagnostic systems are in place and that medical supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators and isolation units are available in designated hospitals.

The project will equip designated laboratories with COVID-19 trained staff as well as diagnostic equipment, test kits and reagents.

To deliver critical medical support and cope with the increased demand for services, the project will rehabilitate district-level health facilities, selected medical college hospitals, the Infectious Diseases Hospital, and the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, among others.

It will help set up new isolation wards and ramp up intensive care units, provide personal protective equipment, medical equipment including ventilators and medicines in designated hospitals.

The project will also help improve medical waste management and disposal and water and sanitation systems in the designated health facilities.

To minimise risks for patients and health personnel, the project will help develop guidelines for treatment and hospital infection control, train medical professionals and health workers.

Further, it will help the government design and implement behavioural change communication campaigns for social distancing and improved hygiene practices.

The ADB will provide Tk 850 crore for the other project worth Tk 1,365 crore, which targets to fight Covid-19 and improve preparedness. The government will mobilise Tk 514 crore to implement the plan.

The project will help meet the government's immediate and medium-term needs to prevent the spread of coronavirus, by supporting emergency procurement and the provision of the most crucial medical equipment and supplies, an official of the planning ministry said.

In today's Ecnec meeting, another proposal will be placed seeking a 12 per cent rise in the construction cost and a two-and-a-half-year time extension of the Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant project.

Dhaka WASA undertook the Tk 3,318 crore project in 2015 to build a sewage treatment plant with funds from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Construction works were scheduled to be completed by December 2019 but the DWASA could not implement the project in time as it failed to acquire necessary land.

Now the implementing entity wants the project cost to be increased to Tk 3,713 crore and the duration to be extended until June 2022.

In the project document, the depreciation of the taka against the US dollar and the increase in salary of government officials and staff have been shown as the reason behind the cost overrun.

The exchange rate of the US dollar was estimated at Tk 78 in 2015, which has now hit Tk 85, and the salary of government officials and staff have almost doubled during this time, according to the proposal.

On November 23, 2014, the DWASA entered into an engineering, procurement and construction contract with HydroChina International Engineering Co Ltd (HydroChina), a subsidiary of Hydrochina Corporation, for the construction of the plant.

Under the terms, HydroChina will operate and maintain the plant for one year following the completion of the project.

According to the project summary of August 2015, approvals were secured from the government. The cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the project to appoint HydroChina.

The Export-Import Bank of China was scheduled to provide a financial assistance of $273.4 million for the project while $140.6 million would have been accommodated from the national exchequer and $1.25 million from the DWASA's own fund.


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