Planning Minister MA Mannan will soon call a meeting of secretaries from all ministries and divisions to discuss how to stop the trend of estimating unjustifiably high prices of products and services for development projects.
At the meeting, he will detail the responsibilities of secretaries during the formulation of development project proposals, Mannan told The Business Standard over the phone on Wednesday.
Providing more details, the minister said, "We are making a serious effort to check the unjustified cost estimations for components of projects. I have discussed the matter at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase today.
"I will call all the secretaries very soon. As a development-oriented government, we approve a lot of projects. Any corruption will degrade the output of those projects, and would reduce the value of the government expenditure. We will not tolerate such overestimations any longer."
On July 18, The Business Standard published an investigative report titled "How much does a Boti cost? It costs Tk10k for Govt."
The report revealed that unusually high prices for small kitchen utensils such as plates, plastic bowls, spoons and rice drums for a project were approved in the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on July 14.
The estimated cost for buying furniture items like chairs, tables and sofas was exorbitant too. Computers, laptops, smart televisions, air conditioners, fridges and other home appliances were also targeted for purchase at almost double the usual prices.
Under the project, 51,300 pieces of agricultural equipment will be distributed at half-subsidised price. The issue of overpricing the project created discussions across the country following the TBS report.
Consequently, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a notice to Dr Abdul Muyeed, director general of the Department of Agricultural Extension. A three-member committee was also formed by the ministry to investigate the matter.
The Department of Agricultural Extension has taken initiatives to form a separate evaluation committee, Dr Abdul Muyeed said on Tuesday.