Cost overruns and delays cannot be the norm
The recent finding by a probe body of the University Grants Commission (UGC) about the mishandling of projects at Begum Rokeya University of Rangpur (BRUR) is a classic example of how government schemes experience delays in implementation due to anomalies and rules violations by the concerned authorities. The report shows that though the constructions of the Sheikh Hasina Female Student Dormitory and Dr Wazed Research and Training Institute were inaugurated on January 4, 2017 and were supposed to have ended in 2018, less than half of the construction of the two structures has been completed till now. The probe body has also found that the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the university and his close associates have violated both the Public Procurement Act 2006 and Public Procurement Rules 2008. The same thing recently happened in the case of the Kushtia Medical College and Hospital. Eight years after the government had approved the setting up of the institution, the project's implementing agency could not make much progress in completing it. Although the project started in 2012 and was to be done by December 2014, only 34 percent of the work had been finished till December 2019. Meanwhile, the cost of the project has more than doubled during the same period.
Not conducting feasibility studies before embarking on a project, changes in leadership and policy-making bodies during the continuation of the projects, bringing changes in the initial designs of the projects numerous times and also, appointment of companies and individuals personally attached to the head of an organisation are some of the common reasons behind this repetitive story of cost overruns and delays in the execution of government-funded projects. To find a solution to this problem, the government should establish certain rules and regulations that will prohibit the top brass of an institution from affiliating themselves with the economic activities related to a project. Besides, the government should also set up a committee or body that will supervise over all its initiatives centrally, without any interference from the local authorities. Also, holding accountable those responsible for these inefficiencies and delays and punishing those found guilty of graft no matter how influential he/she may be are essential steps to ensure that valuable funds and resources of the government are not wasted and projects are completed within the deadlines.