Taking the sheen off implementation
The government's Economic Relations Division has found that slow implementation in several ministries has sat on the back burner several important projects. Some 28 foreign-aided projects fall in this category with some half a dozen involving Tk 6,000 crore were included in the current annual development programme (ADP) without confirming finance. This lack of professionalism has resulted in not only making the government look bad but put into jeopardy development in some crucial areas. We have been talking about these problems for some years now and they are not unknown to policymakers. The lacklustre performance by various branches of the government including departments and ministries have never really been addressed and we keep coming back to revisit them every year.
How some projects can be included in the ADP before ensuring finance, is something that eludes us completely. Then of course there are projects that have finance, but there is no movement on them. Then there are others like the Padma Bridge rail that is supposed to connect the capital city with the southern districts via the bridge itself hasn't progressed satisfactorily despite having an understanding that was supposed to end in a loan agreement with China's Exim Bank, but which has not materialised as yet.
And every year, our ADP keeps getting bigger and more ambitious whilst no commensurate effort is made to address core deficiency areas, i.e. increasing the capacity of institutions to materialise projects undertaken. While it is agreed that the highest implementation rate was achieved in the current fiscal (USD3.56billion), the fact remains that there is a mismatch between targets and ability to deliver on those targets. Project management remains a sore point for policymakers and performance will keep lagging unless efforts are made to address efficiency bottlenecks in administration.