Rubel Rana

2018-04-15 13:07:20 BdST

Rat race on to push through new, unapproved projects


Ministries are racing hard to add their new, unapproved projects to the upcoming Annual Development Programme (ADP), majority of which insiders say are politically-motivated.

Officials and insiders said that the Planning Commission is under pressure to include the fresh but unapproved projects in the development programme for the financial year 2018-19, defying the government rules and regulations.

They said almost all ministries and divisions had sent hundreds of such projects to the commission for their inclusion in the upcoming ADP, even without proper feasibility studies.


Some of the projects were not maintained the priority list, the ministries had prepared themselves earlier, they added.

"We're under severe pressure from many ministries and divisions to include their projects. Many of those schemes have not any feasibility study or even importance at this moment," a commission official said.

The big ministries are putting considerable pressure on the commission for the inclusion of their several hundreds of projects in the development programme for the next financial year (FY) 2017-18, he added.

The government every year prepares the national budget, where the ADP is the core part for the development work.

Under the ADP, the commission includes hundreds of projects, which are mostly ongoing, are approved but fresh.

In some cases, it includes fresh but unapproved projects based on the national priority and necessity at the ADP every year.

The commission has recently started work on preparing the ADP for the upcoming fiscal year, where more than 1,300 ongoing projects are expected to be included with fund allocations, officials said.

"We've already received two lists of projects from the every ministry and division. One is included ongoing projects with fund allocations and another one is unapproved fresh projects which have no fund allocations," said a senior commission official.

"Now we are scrutinising both the lists. We are giving priority to those fresh projects, which are very important for the country and have the feasibility study. We are trying to delist the less-priority projects," he added.

The official, however, said some ministries and divisions always put pressure to include the less-priority and unproductive projects.

According to the commission, the Roads Transport and Bridges Ministry has alone sent a list of some 208 fresh and unapproved projects for inclusion in the ADP. In the current ADP, the ministry has nearly 150 ongoing projects for completion.

Besides, the Railway Ministry has sent some 60 fresh projects, the Power Division 90 fresh projects, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) under the Rural Development and Rural Institutions sector has sent a list of some 23 fresh projects for incorporating at the new ADP.

However, in the current ADP, the Railway Ministry has some 50 projects and the Power Division has 75 projects and the LGED under Rural Development and Rural Institutions has about 23 fresh projects.

Meanwhile, in ongoing ADP for the current fiscal year, the government included a record 1,675 unapproved fresh projects without fund allocations, mostly on political considerations.

The number of fresh projects (1,675) is higher than the approved (1,308) ones in the ADP, endorsed in May last year by the National Economic Council, the government's highest economic policy-making body .

Development analysts said the rise in unapproved projects without fund allocation at the development programme is a bad news for the economy as mostly are included under the political considerations.

"Many ongoing projects under ADP struggle for fund shortage every year. The government cannot allocate funds even for the priority project," said Mirza Azizul Islam, a former caretaker adviser.

If the fresh unapproved projects without fund allocation are included in the ADP, the commission will be obliged to endorse those giving allocation in the middle of a year," he said, adding this would affect the ongoing project implementation further.

He said the way has not only affected the fund allocations, the projects face delays and cost overrun at one stage resulting in wastage of public money at the end.

Another senior commission official said they had to include hundreds of unapproved projects in the development budget for years without providing allocations due to pressure from the ministers and political leaders.

"But it is interesting that many such projects remain unimplemented at the end of the year."

He said, "Since the projects do not have any proper feasibility studies and design before their inclusion, ultimately most of them are not approved by the proper authorities or dropped from the list in the following year."

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