In the just-concluded 2019-20 fiscal year, all ministries and divisions managed to spend only 80.18 percent of the allocation of the revised annual development programme (RADP) – the lowest on record since the independence of Bangladesh.
The RADP implementation rate in the 2018-19 fiscal year was 94.66 percent. It fell by 14.48 percentage points in the last fiscal year as the novel coronavirus pandemic jeopardised development projects.
An Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) report revealed the information Tuesday.
IMED Secretary Abul Mansur Md Faizullah presented the report at an online press briefing after the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting while Planning Minister MA Mannan was also connected to the virtual meeting.
Despite the lowest implementation record, Planning Minister MA Mannan expressed his satisfaction over the performance of the implementing agencies.
"Development work was suspended for quite a long time in the last quarter of the fiscal year due to the virus outbreak. It is natural that the implementation rate would fall drastically. But the rate is higher than the desired level," he told The Business Standard.
Meanwhile, Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Towfiqul Islam Khan commented that the implementation rate considering the financial progress seems higher than the rate of physical progress.
He said, "The implementation rate jumped 31.05 percentage points in the last three months of the fiscal year from 49.13 percent in April. But physical work was almost closed at that time."
He suggested the government ensure and evaluate physical progress of development projects properly.
The previous record for least implementation of the RADP was in the 1992-93 fiscal year with 80.66 percent. However, the revised ADP implementation in the 2019-20 fiscal year has broken the record.
Sources at the Planning Commission said that though the annual development spending of Tk215,114 crore was targeted last year, it was later trimmed to Tk201,199 crore owing to the sluggish implementation rate.
Last year, the ministries and divisions could spend only Tk161,321 crore leaving Tk39,878 crore unutilised. Meanwhile, Tk53,793 crore is being returned in estimation of the main ADP.
Analysis shows that a total of Tk167,186 crore against the RADP of Tk176,620 crore was spent in the 2018-19 fiscal year – marking an implementation rate of 94.66 percent.
In the just-concluded year, the implementation rate fell in both percentage points and actual spending – Tk5,865 crore less than in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Planning Minister MA Mannan is confident the speed of the development activities will be regained in the current fiscal year amid the Covid-19 situation.
He said the economy has been showing substantial symptoms of recovery as economic activities have partially resumed.
The minister said that some of the projects were being implemented ensuring social distance and other health safety measures.
Mannan said project progress will be accelerated further with the introduction of double work shifts at the construction sites once the situation normalises.
When contacted, Economist Towfiqul Islam Khan commented that the government should prioritise development projects in order to deliver the best results in the current fiscal year.
"Projects related to healthcare and pandemic management should be prioritised. Employment-generating projects should be accelerated to support the poor. Nearly-completed projects also should have a space," he noted.
The economist also suggested the government check corruption in project implementation to yield the maximum from public money.