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Monitor mega-projects strictly before polls

SANEM urges authorities


FE Report | June 10, 2018 00:00:00


Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of SANEM, speaking at a press conference in the capital on Saturday

A think-tank has called for strict monitoring of ongoing mega projects ahead of the national elections.

"Instead of focusing on spending, we need to focus on the quality of the projects," said the head of the Dhaka-based South Asian Network for Economic Modeling (SANEM).

"It is very likely that spending on mega projects would increase manifold in the next six months to make them visible before the elections," executive director Selim Raihan said.

He was speaking at a post-budget briefing in the capital on Saturday.

"However, strict monitoring is required to measure how much of this spending is aimed at ensuring the quality of the projects", he added.

Researchers at the SANEM also called for introducing "reward and punishment" measures for ensuring the quality of development projects.

"Spending is often synonymous with project implementation in our country. But that should not be the case," Dr Raihan said.

"Rather, we need to focus on the quality of the development work," he said.

"Those who cannot ensure that quality should be held accountable."

Experts at the SANEM noted although the government has set an ambitious target for revenue generation, there has been no 'radical improvement' required for attaining the goal.

"Attaining the targets like Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require big budget. And a big chunk of that big budget would come from tax collection," he said.

"The sort of regime change that is required for better tax collection is totally absent."

SANEM also said that no specific measures were taken to increase the capability of those involved in revenue collection.

"Although, the new VAT law is set to be implemented in 2019, there has been no specific direction in this regard in the budget speech," Mr Raihan said.

Noting the time and cost overrun in implementing the mega projects, the SANEM said that such stagnation in mega projects could hamper private investment.

"Although a total of 10 mega projects have been declared fast-track, there has been no specific direction for their implementation in the new budget," the SANEM chief said.

The SANEM identified the prevailing debacle in the banking sector, lack of confidence in private investment and stagnancy in employment generation as major signs of worries.

"If we cannot take appropriate measures to address these problems immediately, the future would be uncertain for us," Mr Raihan warned.

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