High hopes for a better project aid utilisation may be shattered this year due to the gloomy execution of 28 foreign-funded projects.
At a recent meeting, the Economic Relations Division (ERD) expressed frustration over the implementation status of 28 out of 63 foreign-funded schemes that saw Tk 200 crore or more allocation each this year, ERD sources said.
ERD is going to send demi-official letters to the implementing agencies concerned so that project implementation gains more pace, they added.
“The expected money has not been spent on these 28 projects. So we have decided to send DO letters to the implementing agencies to accelerate the execution,” ERD Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam said.
There is no alternative to boosting execution of slow-paced projects with foreign funds to reach close to the Tk 57,000 crore project assistance utilisation target set in ADP this year, he explained.
“We want the aided projects to get a boost this year and at the same time release of foreign funds increase as well,” the ERD secretary pointed out.
Foreign fund disbursement target has been set at $5,555 million in 2017-18FY, whereas the ERD Secretary on several occasions has said they want to raise the fund release figure to as high as $7 billion this year, supported by some large disbursement against some big projects.
Last fiscal, PA disbursement hit the record high since the country’s independence at $3.59 billion which was 86 percent of the year’s revised target of $4,165 million.
The meeting documents suggest that the 63 projects fetched Tk 45,422 crore in PA allocation in the current fiscal year, which is nearly 80 percent of PA outlay under ADP.
Of these projects, the progress in 35 projects was found satisfactory while 28 were in a shabby condition.
The slow-moving projects include nine schemes led by the power division, five of road transport and highways division, four of local government division, three of the education ministry, two of railways ministry and one each of information ministry, post and telecom division, ICT division, health services division and election commission.
The Padma rail link project is the most important one out of these 28 schemes. A loan contract for the high-priority project is likely to be signed this month. However, a major portion of the project’s allocated funds will remain unutilised at the yearend, ERD officials said.
Skepticism also surfaced about the utilisation of Tk 982 crore PA allocation for duel gauge rail line construction from Akhaura to Laksam. ERD thinks the Tk 100 crore PA will remain unutilised for re-powering the Ghorashal fourth unit project.
Allocated foreign money might not be fully spent in establishing full-fledged TV stations in five divisional headquarters project as loan contract has not been signed with China.
Procurement contract for two packages of Greater Dhaka sustainable urban transport (BRTA, Gazipur to Airport) has not yet been signed, for which its allocated money is not likely to be fully utilised.
Other slow-moving projects include setting up of broadband wireless network for digital Bangladesh, secondary education quality and access enhancement, college education development, Chittagong water supply improvement and sanitation, Karnaphuli water supply phase-2 and modernisation of the Dhaka-Chittagong main power grid.
Also, upgradation of rural electricity distribution system, construction of 132/33kv and 33/11kv sub-station under DPDC area, power grid network strengthening project under PGCB and construction of Lebukhali Bridge on the Pyra River on Barisal-Patuakhali highway projects, among other, faced delay.