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Development project execution rate at a standstill for years

Steps to expedite the process go in vain

FHM Humayan Kabir | April 12, 2018 00:00:00

The government's development project implementation capacity has not improved over the years, as the budget spending rate of its agencies is almost stagnant compared to the previous years, analysts said on Tuesday.

The government agencies spent about 45 per cent of Annual Development Programme (ADP) until third quarter (Q3) of the current financial year (FY), 2017-18, almost same to that in FY 17 and in the previous fiscal.

The ADP implementation performance (in terms of financial values) was somewhat better in the past couple of years, as the agencies spent about 47 per cent of their total allocations in Q3 of both FY 15 and FY 14.

Meanwhile, the ministries of planning and finance took several steps to quicken the project implementation rate, which virtually went in vein, the analysts also said.

According to the official statistics, the government agencies spent Tk 719.40 billion funds, 45.65 per cent of its total Tk 1.57 trillion allocations in the revised ADP, during July-March period of the current FY.

During the same period in FY 17, the agencies spent Tk 538.64 billion or 45.2 per cent of its total Tk 1.19 trillion outlay, and in FY 16, Tk 419.75 billion or 45 per cent of the total Tk 939.05 billion.

Besides, in Q3 of FY 15, they spent Tk 469.25 billion or 47 per cent of the Tk 778.36 billion outlay in the revised development budget.

In FY 14, they spent Tk 299.45 billion, 47 per cent of the total Tk 639.91 billion outlay, according to data of Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Planning Commission.

Development experts were critical of the 45 per cent expenditure performance in the first three quarters of this fiscal.

As a result, the agencies have to take a "hurry-up" approach to spend the rest 55 per cent of ADP funds in only three remaining months of the FY, they opined.

World Bank Lead Economist Dr Zahid Hussain said on Monday the capacity of the government's project executing agencies has not been improving, as their budget spending rate was almost the same like the previous years.

"The government has taken several measures to improve capacity of the agencies in implementing the projects in time as well as to ensure quality in public fund expenditure. But all have gone in vein," said a top official of the Planning Commission (PC).

PC officials said it is interesting this year that the agencies' budget spending rate from project aid (external resources) was higher compared to the rate from the government's internal resources.

According to IMED, the implementing agencies spent 40 per cent or Tk 388.68 billion allocations from the internal resources, while 56 per cent or Tk 291.15 billion from the external resources in July-March period of this fiscal.

Planning Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal said the Prime Minister's vision was to streamline quality implementation of the development budget.

"The PC has so far brought necessary reforms to fulfil its target.

Now it needs to bring some reforms for speeding up the project execution process," he said after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting on Tuesday.

The PC officials said the poor project execution rate was shown in the state financial management. The performance of some large ministries, like railways, health, primary and mass education, and road transport and bridges, was bleak until Q3 of FY 18.

Ministries of Railways, Health, Water Resources, Bridges Division, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, and Road Transport and Highways Division spent 19 per cent, 35 per cent, 35 per cent, 35 per cent, 36 per cent, and 42 per cent respectively of their allocated funds during the July-March period of current FY.

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