Thursday, 23 March, 2023

WB loan for weather project cut by Tk 2.48bn

WB loan for weather project cut by Tk 2.48bn

A World Bank loan to improve weather forecasting and information has been cut by Tk 2.48 billion after some key components were proposed to be dropped.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), the agency responsible for implementing the project, has sent a proposal to the Planning Commission requesting that the scheme be revised.

There was originally an estimate of Tk 5.20 billion for the project titled "Improving Weather Information Service and Advance Weather Forecast," with the Washington-based lender contributing Tk 4.63 billion and the rest coming from the state budget.

The project cost decreased to Tk 3.01 billion after the first revision, while overseas lending to the scheme dropped to Tk 2.47 billion.

With the second revision, the project cost has been proposed to be slashed by Tk 436.6 million to Tk 2.57 billion with the WB loan declining to Tk 2.15 billion and a time extension to December 2023.

The project's original timeline was July 2016 to June 2021, which was extended by six months but the budget was slashed to Tk 3.01 billion after the first revision.

"BMD has submitted project revision proposals to the Planning Commission, which will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the project evaluation committee (PEC),” said Nadira Akhtar, deputy chief of the commission's Physical Infrastructure Division.

There will be some changes to the project components. Some will decrease while others will increase. As a result of the Corona pandemic, the World Bank's loan for the project will also decline. The project will also be extended for these reasons,” she added.

Despite the project's provisions for international procurement, the suppliers were unable to supply the materials on time because of the Covid-19crisis, which severely disrupted the global supply chain, according to commission officials.

Several project packages could not be implemented due to a travel ban, while training activities under the project were also hampered.

Moreover, clearance could not be obtained from the project implementation unit of the lender for packages like data sharing software to share info between BMD and stakeholders, development of numerical model guidance and preparation of prediction using and development of national framework of climate service and consultancy and research programme.

Now, these packages are not possible to implement within the remaining project time. So, the packages have been proposed to be dropped from the project, sources added.

Under the scheme, automatic agriculture weather machines are being set up in some 200 upazilas to help improve information sharing with regard to agricultural weather.

Besides, 35 obsolete weather observation centres of BMD across the country will be transformed into modern ones, among others.