Belying a kick-start of the economy after massive Covid-19 disruptions in Bangladesh and the world over, government agencies seem still navigating a slow lane in implementing the country's development projects.
Insiders said Wednesday the overall progress got aggravated further with "the worst performance" of the highest-priority health ministry and of shipping ministry during the first four months (July-Oct) of the current fiscal year (FY) 2021-22.
The Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) showed the rate of implementation of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) at little over 13 per cent during the period-over 1.0-percentage-point lower than recorded before the pandemic in FY2020.
In the July-October period this FY2020, the government agencies implemented 13.25 per cent of the ADP.
A senior IMED official said although the ADP implementation had improved a little bit during the first four months this year compared to the same period last year, but the performances were still falling behind the mark before coronavirus invasion.
"The coronavirus had badly affected the project implementation between April 2020 and early August this year. But the country's economy has restarted at full pace over the last two and a half months," he said.
The IMED official said the health ministry's continued worst performance held back the potential ADP implementation.
The Health Services Division (HSD) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare again positioned lowest in development-budget spending during July-Oct period this FY2022 as it spent only 3.99 per cent of its total allocations, IMED data showed.
Like in more than a decade now, the HSD has gone on the same bleak lane as when the entire country saw massive health-service fallout during this COVID-19 pandemic, development analysts said.
The shipping ministry among the 15 larger budget-holders also performed poor, which also slowed the overall ADP-implementation rate during the July-October period.
The shipping ministry had spent only 6.24 per cent of its total development allocation in the first four months, IMED data showed.
Performances of the fellow larger 13 other development budget-holding ministries and divisions were comparatively better, an FE analysis has found.
Meanwhile, the government ministries and agencies implemented 15 per cent of the Tk 2.36-trillion ADP outlay in the first four months of the current FY2022.
According to the FE analysis, the HSD under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was the worst performer in implementing development works during the period under review.
The Division, the 6th-largest budget-bearer, had spent only Tk 5.18 billion or 3.99 per cent of its total Tk130 billion ADP budget so far.
The rate was just one-fourth compared to other big-budget sectors in the same period, the analysis found.
According to IMED, the health ministry got the highest-ever budget allocation under the ADP in FY2022 compared to the previous years since independence.
"But it failed to duly implement the development projects, which got government's highest priority," said one official.
A Member at the Planning Commission said the health ministry had been showing "almost the same weakness in its project implementation over the years, which is unbearable for the public development and financial management".
Development analysts and officials say the health ministry's poor capacity, different alleged scams and corruption, and lack of transparency put Bangladesh in a vulnerable condition during this coronavirus pandemic.
They urged the government to restructure the country's health administration for enhancing its project- implementation capacity and providing better service to people.
Meanwhile, the Industries Ministry had performed best in July-October period this fiscal, utilizing Tk 13.71 billion, 33.56 per cent, of its Tk 40.87 billion total outlay in the current fiscal ADP.
The local government division attained second position in the first four months with its 16.93-per cent spending, followed by primary and mass education ministry with 16.40 per cent, the railway ministry with 16.25 per cent, the water resources ministry with its 15.73 per cent, and secondary and higher secondary division with its 14.85-per cent budget utilization.
All the government ministries and agencies combined spent Tk 309.19 billion, or 13.06 per cent, of the total Tk 2.36 trillion ADP outlay during July-October period.
In the same period last FY2021, they spent Tk 274.52 billion, or 12.79 per cent, of the total Tk 2.14- trillion outlay.
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