Implementation of the annual development programme in the just concluded fiscal year 2019-2020 was hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak as the rate of execution stood at 80.18 per cent, the lowest ever.
According to the data obtained from the planning and finance ministries, that the previous lowest ADP execution rate was 80.70 per cent in the FY 1992-1993.
The ADP implementation data for the first few years after the country’s independence was not available with the ministries.
The progress in ADP execution in recent years have hovered over 90 per cent and reached 96 per cent in FY2013.
Experts, however, expressed their doubt over the execution rate in FY20, arguing that the development activities were almost halted in the last three months, from April to June.
Most of the mega projects, including Dhaka Metro Rail and Padma Bridge, witnessed a very insignificant progress in the period as most of the foreign consultants and technical people did not come back to Bangladesh or went back to their countries fearing coronavirus infection, they said.
They also blamed snail-paced ADP implementation in the first three quarters for the record lowest progress in the year.
Planning ministry’s Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division secretary Abul Mansur Md Faizullah on Tuesday at the post-ECNEC press briefing said that they finalised the ADP implementation data for FY20 and found it 80.18 per cent of the revised ADP worth Tk 2,01,199 crore in the year.
The original ADP outlay was Tk 2,15,114 crore.
Planning minister MA Mannan was present at the briefing.
The government’s ADP implementing agencies, including ministries and divisions, could spend only Tk 1,61,321 crore in the July-June period, Tk 5,865 crore lower than that of FY19 when the expenditure stood at Tk 1,67,186 crore.
It was 94.66 per cent in FY19, he said.
The ADP implementation progress jumped by around 23 per cent or Tk 45,900 crore in a single month—June—from 57.37 per cent or Tk 1,15421 crore spent in the first 11 months (July-May) of the fiscal year.
In July-April, the government agencies could implement only 49.13 per cent.
‘The year-end execution rate seems surprisingly excessive and more or less 70 per cent would be reasonable considering the ground reality,’ Policy Research Institute executive director Ahsan H Mansur told New Age.
The ADP execution rate has doubled in three-four months from less than 40 per cent [37.26 per cent up to February], raising question about the quality of the public expenditure, he said.
‘There might be cases that the government agencies approved the bills of contractors to show the progress higher although the money was not actually spent,’ he observed.
Otherwise, they have to give back the unspent money to the government exchequer, he added.
The IMED’s data is all about financial transactions, which may not reflect the actual progress on ground, he said.
According to the available data, Dhaka Metro Rail project and Padma Bridge project recorded only 2 per cent progress in the last three months as activities remained almost suspended as most of the foreign workers were absent during the period due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The same situation prevailed in the other mega projects, including Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant and Rampal Power Plant.
Economist and former interim government adviser Mirza Azizul Islam said that both coronavirus outbreak and lethargic progress in the first three quarters affected the overall progress of the year’s development budget.
The government agencies often approve bills and give cheque to contractors at the last moment even though the development activities are not completed, he said.
Contractors also hurriedly carry out project implementation activities in last two or three months, hampering the quality of works that are evident on ground where roads and bridges become damaged a few months after the completion of the project, he said.
He said that the overall implementation rate became worse due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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