Projects delayed for poor preparations, coordination
About 76 percent of the government officials involved with preparing, processing and evaluating development projects think the projects get approved without an adequate feasibility study and stakeholder consultations, found recent research.
And about 26 percent of the respondents in the survey answered that they had experienced such lacking in 61 to 81 percent of the projects, according to the study by the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division on the slow implementation of development projects.
"This is a major area of concern," said the report, which is based on a survey from 100 government officials, focus group discussions, project data for the last five years and interviews with consultants, retired government officials and project directors.
It is a first-of-its-kind study by the government. It was carried out following the instruction of the IMED secretary, and MD Taibur Rahman, a director of the division, was the lead researcher. The study is now available at the IMED website.
Bangladesh lags in completing most projects on time and within budget, causing cost overruns and lowering the expected benefits from the projects.
The poor and sluggish implementation rates of the much-publicised fast-track projects such as the Padma bridge, the Padma bridge railway link and the Dhaka metro rail are examples, said the report, which was published in June 6.
Of the eight fast-track projects of the government, six have already been revised and a revision proposal for another -- metro rail -- has been submitted. Only the Rooopur nuclear power plant project has not been revised yet.
Because of the cost and time escalations, the majority of the projects fail to attain the objectives and targets set initially including the internal rate of return, financial rate of return and the economic rate of return.
Hence, it is important to identify the major causes and take necessary actions to prevent such mis-governance of public projects.
About 85 percent of the respondents agreed that the projects that require civil works lack proper engineering drawings, which is key to the successful completion of the projects.
About 72 percent of the respondents either agreed or fully agreed that weak project documents are a major roadblock. Only 16 percent were indifferent and 12 percent did not agree.
"This indicates that the overwhelming majority has opined that project documents are weak and this is a serious problem."
About 16 percent of the respondents experience a high incidence of such a problem: 61 to 81 percent.
As many as 89 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that there is an inadequacy of resources to prepare a decent development project proposal (DPP).
About 70 percent of the respondents think that more than 40 percent of the projects had weak DPP or technical project proposal (TPP) due to a lack of adequate resources, it said.
"A few people are involved in preparing a large number of DPP/TPP and this compromises the quality of the project documents, which later causes delays in project implementation."
This highlights the urgent need to strengthen the planning wing of all administrative ministries.
About 74 percent of the respondents agreed or fully agreed that the work and procurement plan of the DPP/TPP are not closely followed.
More than 80 percent of the respondents think there is a lack of transparency and accountability in project implementations. Three-fourths of the respondents believe that more than 40 percent of the projects had such challenges.
More than 90 percent agreed that recruitment of PDs and project staffers and frequent transfer of PDs delay project implementation, it said.
Subsequently, the study called for the appointment of full-time project directors and less scope for revisions.
About 80 percent of the respondents think that there is a lack of coordination among the implementing agencies in the field.
As much as 80 percent of respondents think that the project evaluation committee and project steering committee, two major committees responsible for monitoring project implementation, are not held regularly, becoming a major cause for project delays.
Sometimes, non-professionals are included in the committees, creating problems.
Around 95 percent of the respondents agreed or fully agreed that the right contractors are not selected, which suggests the magnitude of the problem.
About three-fourths of respondents think that more than 40 percent of the projects had such problems.
About 91 percent think that land acquisition is a major challenge in completing projects.
Subsequently, the report called for ensuring all sorts of building materials, land, power supply, procurement, customs clearance and other utilities at the time of implementation of the project.