Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) needs to be decentralised and strengthened with manpower and tools to enhance oversight of its development projects, said Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
The think tank said such steps will save both cost and time and improve quality of the project implementation.
The think tank recommended introducing monitoring and evaluation cells in all of the ministries and divisions apart from intensifying citizen’s oversight on projects.
“IMED should be decentralised at least divisional level to increase its project supervision. Every ministry should have their own IMED as it was during the tenure of Bangabandhu,” CPD Distinguished Fellow Prof Dr Mustafizur Rahman said.
He presented the keynote at the event and pointed out some pressing issues regarding development projects.
In his paper, Dr Mustafizur Rahman showed that 31 revised projects in ADP had seen Tk 294.71 billion cost hike, nearly similar to the cost of Padma Bridge.
This happened because of time and cost overrun, which is a major problem for ADP execution, he said.
CPD distinguished fellow also criticised the symbolic allocation for some projects, saying that the practice undermines the discipline in development work.
Fixing the issues will play very important role in implementation of SDGs and attaining high income status that will need raising infrastructure investment to 8 percent of GDP from existing 3-4 percent.
Lawmaker Abdus Shahid alleged that the corruption is evident in implementing development projects, which leads to the wastage of public money and information with regard to this should not be concealed.
“Many project directors are buying new cars (for project purpose) although they don’t need to visit the project sites every day. While charging the fuel cost was enough, they bought cars,” he alleged.
Planning Minister MA Mannan identified that the absence of project directors at the project site is the main issue for not having quality and timely execution of projects.
“The most important person of a project is project director. But it is found that the PD of a Panchagarh project stays in Dhaka,” he said.
The minister also blamed some British and Pakistan-era rules and regulations. He said although the rules are now irrelevant, some bureaucrats still want to stick to them.
Another lawmaker for Rajshahi Enamul Haque alleged that pre-feasibility study or cost-benefit analysis were not being done prior to launching of projects.
Prof Mustafizur Rahman said physical, social and digital infrastructure would play a critically important role as Bangladesh prepared for graduation from LDC status.
Investment in infrastructure projects leads to enhanced productivity, higher competitiveness, reduced transportation costs, access to greater social services, and closer integration with regional and global markets, he added.
He also said Bangladesh would need an additional $928.48 billion to meet the SDGs, while more than 73 percent of the additional resources would be needed to develop infrastructure.
"Tk1 additional public investment attracts a Tk4 investment from the private sector. But the phase of infrastructure projects implementation fails to meet the challenges," he added.
Dr Mustafizur Rahman urged the government to engage the stakeholders and the tentative beneficiaries of any project in the stage of preparation and implementation to ensure the best return from the project.
He also recommended strengthening citizens' engagement in monitoring and evaluation.
CPD distinguished fellow highlighted strengthening IMED's institutional capacity to enable it to deliver mandated support.
He recommended increasing man power as about 123 posts out of 338 remain vacant in the IMED.