The month-on-month development expenditure fell by around 24% to Tk9,782 crore in January this fiscal year.
In the month, the government's expenses under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) were lower than in the preceding three months.
Usually, the ADP implementation gets off to a slow start and picks up pace in the middle of a fiscal year. But it did not follow the typical trend this time.
According to the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Planning Commission, in January, all government ministries and departments spent Tk9,782 crore in contrast to Tk12,794 crore in December.
The ADP implementation in July-January of the fiscal 2020-2021 has dropped to a 12-year low with no pace in development works although more than half of the fiscal year has elapsed.
According to the IMED report, only 28.45% of the ADP allocation was spent on development projects in the first seven months of this fiscal year, down from 32% in the last fiscal year. In the fiscal 2018-19, the rate was 34.43%.
The rate of ADP implementation has not come down so much in any year since the fiscal 2009-10.
As of January, the ADP implementation has stood at Tk61,048.53 crore. Of the amount, Tk39,342 crore was spent from the government's coffer, Tk20,012 crore from external sources and Tk1,694 crore from the implementing agencies' funds, said the IMED.
The size of ADP was estimated at Tk21,4611 crore for FY21. A huge amount is yet to be spent in the last five months for the cent percent implementation.
The government is going to slash Tk7,502 crore of foreign aid in the ADP as it is almost impossible to implement the full ADP implementation considering the reality. Yet, the government will have to spend Tk146,060.47 crore of the revised ADP in the last five months.
A few ministries and divisions have pulled back the overall progress of the ADP, said IMED Secretary Pradip Ranjan Chakraborty when asked why the ADP implementation was slow in the middle of the fiscal year.
Nine ministries and divisions implemented the ADP up to 15%, while the figure is below 2% in the case of the Internal Resources Division.
To give momentum to the ADP implementation, the issue has been discussed with secretaries of the ministries that are more responsible than others, Pradip said.
Asked why the ADP implementation was poor in January, he said many projects expired in December and the following month was spent on preparing proposals to extend the durations of the projects.
An analysis shows that the Ministry of Religious Affairs spent 78% of the ADP allocations, the highest, over the last five months.
And in terms of money, the Power Division spent the highest amount – Tk10,313 crore accounting for more than 37% of the ADP allocations.
Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said implementation of development works during the pandemic could have helped the poor get cash in their hands.
That was a matter of consideration when experts at the beginning of the fiscal year expected a high rate of ADP implementation this time.
It has become an old problem that the implementation remains slow at the beginning of a fiscal year, and gets a pace at the end of it. That hampers the quality of development works and results in a waste of public money, Fahmida said
A lack of accountability is a big factor, she said.