Planning Minister MA Mannan said that attaining 8 to 9 percent or even the staggering double digit growth is attainable within the next few years if the country can maintain the momentum of development activities as well as the role of the private sector is further strengthened.
“We’re hopeful of attaining double digit growth if we can further enhance the rate of implementation alongside maintaining quality of works. If we can strengthen the role of the private sector and can facilitate them further through removing their barriers in doing businesses, then it is very much possible,” he said in an exclusive interview to BSS at his office recently.
Asked about the challenges of the present Awami League government in the coming days after a landslide victory in the January 30 election, Mannan said that the main challenge is definitely fulfilling the huge expectations and aspirations of the country’s people since they have re-elected the ruling party for a 3rd straight term.
“The growth rates attained in the last couple of years, including the latest 7.86 percent in the last fiscal, are very much laudable and acceptable by the whole world. Now we’ve to maintain that momentum and we’ve to increase it further to 8 to 9 percent or even more to double digit,” he added.
Prioritizing his areas of work in this term, Mannan informed that his first priority would be to speed up the pace of development works without changing the existing system, giving priority to those projects which would ensure the overall welfare of the common and the rural people and thus speeding up the pace of implementation of the mega projects, which are expected to transform the nation gradually into a developed one.
Noting that the government has achieved significant successes in poverty alleviation over the last 10 years, Mannan, who acted as the state minister for finance and planning in the previous term, said that the ongoing various programmes and operations to alleviate poverty would continue. “We’ll lower the poverty rate to our desired level,”
He said there are some inherent barriers towards poverty alleviation and the government would sincerely continue its efforts to remove those barriers.
The Minister said the government has a plan to widen the coverage and allowances of various social safety net programmes side by side increasing social investments in schools, community clinics, raising supports to the marginal farmers through providing high quality seeds and fertilizers, imparting skills development training to the extreme poor, recovering the grabbed land of the government and in some cases give those to the landless.
Asked whether there is any specific plan to speed up the implementation rate of development projects under the Annual Development Programme (ADP), he said the government definitely wants it and is putting the highest emphasis to speed up the rate.
“We’ll have to strengthen our monitoring over the executing agencies and also over the contractors, engineers, workers and other stakeholders so that the development works are done maintaining due quality,” he added.
About the present state of the mega projects and the future plan of the government in this regard, Mannan said such mega or huge projects are surely in the pipeline of the government.
He said that all the inter-district highways in the country would be upgraded to four-lanes, all the meter-gauge railway tracks would be transformed into dual gauge, broad gauge or double tracks while rail networks would be taken to those new places which are commercially viable and deemed important for boosting the communication network.
Replying to another question, he said that the government would work for further strengthening the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) under the Ministry of Planning, adding that he would sit with all the project directors and project related officials soon.
“We’ll hold workshop in every division to know from them what is their current project status and the problems they are facing and how to address those. Besides, meetings will be held with the project directors of the bigger projects in the capital,” he added.
The Planning Minister said he would personally visit the sites of the mega projects like Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. “My main message to all concerned is to speed up the pace of development works through maintaining the existing system, identifying some unnecessary layers of project implementation process and thus excluding those,”
He said it is under active consideration of the government to further strengthen the IMED with necessary equipments and manpower. “Besides, emphasis will be given so that the IMED can widen its coverage of monitoring with its existing resources.”
Mannan was also hopeful of achieving cent percent implementation rate of the ADP in the current fiscal year.