Allocations for the fast-track projects, the implementation of which slowed down because of the pandemic, are going to increase in the national budget for the 2021-21 fiscal year.
The allocation in the next budget will increase by 31.81% as compared to the revised allocation for the current fiscal year. On the other hand, the allocation for the fast-track projects will increase by 8.22% on the original allocation of the 2020-21 budget.
In the upcoming budget, Padma Bridge, Dohazari-Cox's Bazar railway line, Rooppur nuclear power plant, Matarbari coal-fired power plant and two projects at Payra port will get more money than the current fiscal year.
On the other hand, allocations for Padma rail connection and Metrorail Uttara to Motijheel project will be trimmed.
Planning Commission officials said they have started drafting the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the 2021-22 FY as they have already received a Tk225,000 crore ADP spending ceiling from the finance ministry.
The commission is now allocating the spending which will be finalised in the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting.
Mohammad Jainul Bari, member of the Programming Division at the Planning Commission and also Planning Division secretary, told The Business Standard that fast-track projects usually get allocations as per their demand, and the next fiscal year will be no exception.
According to Planning Commission sources, though the fast-track projects now continue even amid the pandemic-led movement restrictions, there are concerns over the implementation rate in coming days.
Owing to the implementation rate, allocations for most of the projects were trimmed by revising the ADP in the middle of the current fiscal year. However, allocation for the Padma Rail Link project was raised in the revised ADP while the allocation for the Metrorail-6 project was unchanged.
Sources said seven fast-track projects except Rampal Coal Power Project have sought Tk39,024 crore allocation in the next ADP. In the original ADP of the current financial year, the allocation was Tk36,060 crore, which was reduced to Tk29,606 crore in the revised ADP.
The Bridges Division has sought Tk3,500 crore allocation for the Padma Bridge project in the next fiscal year. The division has already taken several measures to complete the remaining 15% works by maintaining the virus safety guidelines.
Padma Bridge Project Director Mohammad Shafiqul Islam told TBS though they are continuing the work after locking down the project site, the pandemic still impedes the implementation rate.
"Around 20% of the Chinese experts are still out of the project site. Even then, we are determined to complete the work by June 2023," he added.
According to the Bridges Division sources, continuing the work at the regular pace amid the pandemic is a monumental challenge. The project authorities remain alert so that the local and foreign consultants, and Chinese technicians do not contract the virus.
Apart from locking down the entire site, the project authorities have arranged medical equipment and healthcare personnel to deal with if any situation emerges. Accommodation of around 2,500 workers have been arranged at the project site.
In the next ADP, the allocation for the Padma Rail Link project will decrease. Padma rail link Project Director Golam Fakhruddin A Chowdhury told TBS that the allocation for the project was raised in the revised ADP as the work was in full swing in the 2020-21 FY.
"But we sought a little less in the next ADP due to the mid-term budget structure. If we can maintain the rate, the spending will also increase. And there are scopes for increasing the allocation in the next year's revised ADP," he added.
He said about 700 Chinese engineers and skilled workers are working in the project. Although several other Chinese were supposed to join the work, they could not come to Bangladesh due to the second wave of the pandemic.
He added the implementation will speed up further if the situation improves.
In the meantime, authorities hope railroad constructions from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar and from Ramu to Ghumdhum will gain momentum next year after settling down the land acquisition and rehabilitation issues.
Director of the project Mofizur Rahman said the land acquisition is nearing completion, and the project would grow appetite for spending from the next fiscal year.
The project had been limping for around ten years due to land acquisition issues. Although Tk1,500 crore was allocated in the original ADP for the project, it was later reduced to Tk990 in the revised ADP.
The railroad construction project wants around Tk1,500 crore again in the next budget.
Compared to the current fiscal year, the allocation for Metrorail-6 project will decrease in the next budget. Contacted, the project official Md Aftabuddin Talukder said the demand for spending declines as the project is nearing completion.
He further said although their initial target was to start Metrorail from Uttara to Agargaon in December this year, the pandemic situation has made the opening of the service a little bit uncertain. The pace of implementation has also slowed down slightly.
The project officials said around 7,000 staff work in the project, and the authorities have taken extensive virus safety measures for them. The project site now has two 14-bed hospitals and the number of hospital beds will be increased if required.
Of the fast-track projects, the highest allocation has been sought for the Rooppur nuclear power project. The Atomic Energy Commission has proposed an allocation of Tk18,426 crore for the project – Tk8,259 crore more than the revised ADP of the current fiscal year.
The government has backtracked from the Payra deep sea port plan as the authorities have now decided to construct a regular seaport instead. Though the importance of the project has lessened slightly, the Ministry of Shipping has proposed to allocate Tk2,479 crore for the two projects at the Payra port in the next year.
Despite a slow implementation rate, Matarbari 1200 MW Ultra Super Critical Coal Fired Power Project has sought allocation hike in the next fiscal year.
With Tk4,200 crore allocated in the revised ADP, the project could spend only 42% of it until February. The project wants Tk4800 crore in the next budget.