The government's Annual Development Programme (ADP) implementation in the first five months of the current fiscal year was the lowest in 11 years, with ADP expenditure falling by 7% compared to the same period of the last financial year.
From July to November of FY21, 17.93% of the ADP allocation was spent, down from 19.24% in the same period of the previous financial year.
With the economy on the path to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic shocks, the government spent about Tk11,020 crore on development projects in November, the highest in the first five months of FY21.
The figures were revealed in the latest report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) under the Ministry of Planning.
According to the report, 20% of the ADP was implemented in the first five months of the fiscal 2010-11. Since then, the implementation rate has risen to 25% several times.
At the beginning of the current financial year, a Tk214,611 crore ADP was formulated. To implement it fully, Tk176,138 crore (about 82%) will have to be spent in the last seven months.
Experts think there will be a huge pressure on ADP implementation at the last minute if the pace is slow at the beginning.
They also fear a waste of public money, saying it will be difficult to ensure quality if the work is done hastily.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said, "You need extra time to reap the benefits if work progresses at a sluggish pace. Costs also rise when implementation time increases."
He urged relevant officials to prioritise project implementation from the very beginning.
IMED Secretary Pradip Ranjan Chakraborty told The Business Standard that the amount of monthly development project expenditures was growing.
He said ADP implementation was going well considering the overall situation, including the various safety and control measures taken to handle the pandemic, as well as the fear of a second wave.
Pradip said projects that had lagged behind were being regularly monitored.
He added that IMED officials, in addition to those involved in projects, were holding discussions with the relevant secretaries in this regard.
Sources said the government had decided not to release 30% of the allocation from its own funds, fearing additional expenditures and a drop in revenue in various sectors due to the pandemic.
Recently, all ministries and divisions were allowed to spend 75% of government funds.
According to the latest data, Tk25,737 (19.12%) crore was spent from state coffers in the first five months of FY21, which was Tk3,517 crore less than the same period of the last fiscal year.
On the other hand, Tk11,682 crore (16.57%) of the Tk70,502 crore allocation from foreign sources was spent in five months.
About 82% of the total ADP was allocated for 15 major ministries and divisions, and their ADP implementation rate was 18.71%.
The implementation rate of the Health Services Division – which was prioritised in terms of allocation due to the pandemic – was only 11% in five months. This division, which is in the seventh position with an allocation of Tk9,736.42 crore for about 50 projects, was able to spend Tk1,089 crore.
The civil aviation and tourism ministry was able to spend 10% of the allocation, vs 12% for the shipping ministry, 13% for the Bridges Division, and 15% for the science and technology ministry.
Meanwhile, the Planning Commission and the Economic Relations Division (ERD) have begun cutting the ADP due to implementation delays.
The ERD has organised a series of meetings with various ministries to review implementation progress and finalise the allocation of foreign aid in the revised ADP.
The Planning Commission has published the revised ADP policy in order to cut ADP allocations.