The necessary allocation for the completion of 71 road projects–which were supposed to be finished in June–has not been approved; however, the Planning Ministry has extended the projects' durations for one more year as per the decision of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
Implementation of these projects from the last financial year were not finished by the deadline because of slow work progress and the Covid-19 pandemic. All the work on the development projects stopped in March due to the pandemic.
There are also some projects that are far behind their estimated finishing times. Officials of the Planning Commission said even if these projects are allocated enough funds, it will not be possible to spend the money within the time frame.
Officials of the Planning Commission said the implementation of many of the 71 road projects has been lagging behind far behind their estimated time. One such project is the unfinished project of developing four lanes, including separate lanes for slow vehicles, from Jatrabari Intersection to Mawa and Panch Vanga area on the Dhaka-Khulna Highway.
The estimated cost of the project is Tk4,112 crore. To finish it within one year, Tk2,757 crore must be spent on the project. However, the project has been allocated only Tk400 crore in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) of the current financial year.
Officials of the Planning Commission said the duration and cost of most of the projects that have been chosen to be completed need to be increased.
According to the people related to the projects, a lack of competence in implementation, the complications in land acquisition, inefficiency in utilising foreign loans are the main reasons for the slow pace of these projects.
The officials said the demand for the road projects is still very high. That is why many projects are being approved. The Road Transport and Highways Division has been undertaking many projects outside the structure of the middle-term budget. But these projects could not be provided with enough allocations because of a funding crisis. As a result, they remain in the ADP year after year. The costs of these projects are also increasing as they are taking much more time to be completed.
Chandan Kumar Dey, additional secretary of the Roads and Highways Division, said, "Many projects could not be finished because of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last financial year. There are rules for providing enough allocations, on a priority basis, for the projects which should be finished. There are chances to provide enough allocations for these projects in the revised ADP."
Planning Commission officials said around 15-20 among 71 projects could be finished within the current financial year if they got enough funds from the revised ADP.
They said the progress of the other projects is so slow that it will not be possible to finish within the current financial year even if they are provided with the necessary allocations.
Abul Monsur Md Faizullah, secretary of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED), told The Business Standard, "The time limit of these projects expired in June. Now, no money can be spent without extending the time. Some projects will be allocated funds based on a priority basis. This will help for some projects to be finished in a timely manner."