The government has eased further the fund release process aiming to expedite the implementation of the annual development programme.
Experts, however, doubted if only easing the fund release would improve the sluggish implementation of projects and observed that other problems like lack of capacity of the implementing agencies should be addressed and quality of project implementation must be ensured.
The finance division on March 31 waived the provision of getting approval from it and the line ministry for releasing fund for the last two quarters of a financial year against projects financed by the government, said its officials.
The projects directors would now automatically get the fund of last two quarters as per the finance division circular issued by joint secretary Shirajun Noor Chowdhury on March 31.
Earlier in July 2018, the government waived the provision for mandatory approval from the finance division and the line ministry for the release of project funds for the first and second quarters of a financial year.
The move came against the backdrop of allegations that delayed fund release hampered the project implementation.
Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division acting secretary Abul Mansur Md Faizullah told New Age on Wednesday that the government met a major demand of the project directors and they would no more be able to raise allegation of delay in release of fund.
He, however, noted that the finance division should not release the fund for the fourth and last quarter automatically as authority over it could create some pressure on the project directors.
Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said that no doubt it was a good move for accelerating implementation of the development projects.
But the move also made it necessary for the government to take additional measures to ensure the quality implementation of the development projects, he said.
Besides, he said, problems like lack of capacity of the implementing agencies and inefficient project directors should also be addressed.
Delayed implementation of the projects causes increase in project costs and such projects fail to deliver expected benefits, said Mustafizur Rahman.
Progress in implementation of annual development programme was only 39.13 per cent or Tk 70,772 crore in eight months, from July 2018 to February 2019, in the current financial year.
ADP implementation remained sluggish in the current fiscal year due to slower progress during the national election, as well as the traditional problems in land acquisition and delay in procurement, officials said.
On March 19, the government revised the annual development programme at Tk 1,65,000 crore from the original Tk 1,73,000 crore in the current fiscal.
A project director said that they welcomed the new move of the finance division as it would save two to three months.
It took at least two months to get the fund following the due process, said project director Ashadul Haque of a railway project on construction of rail-line from Ishwarrdi to Dhalarchar via Pabna.
The Tk 1,737 crore project is scheduled to be completed in June.
Ashadul Haque, who has been overseeing the project for one year, said that there were other problems like lack of coordination and land acquisition for the delay in implementation of projects.
Delayed construction of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge across the Padma River caused increase in project cost to Tk 39,258.13 crore from initial projection of Tk 10,161 crore.
Although the project is supposed to be completed in December 2019 as per the revised schedule, the bridges division is under pressure from Chinese contractor to extend the deadline until June 2021.
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