From delay in land acquisition to inadequate feasibility studies to improper public purchase plans, all have got in the way of the annual development programme's (ADP) implementation that registered only a 24% progress in the first six months of the current fiscal year.
All ministries and divisions of the government were able to spend only one-fourth of their respective ADP allocations, reveals the latest progress report prepared by the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Planning Ministry.
In July-December of FY21 when the pandemic was at its peak, the ADP implementation rate was 23.89%, while the rate was 27% on average in the first six months of the pre-pandemic fiscal years.
The IMED report puts the slow pace of ADP implementation down to several reasons: failure to appoint project directors on time, a lack of annual work plan, delay in preparing tender documents and structural designs, and not having a clear picture of environmental and other impacts from projects.
IMED officials said the Covid situation has disrupted visits of foreign consultants and experts to the project sites. Imports of project materials from abroad have also been delayed.
Experts say the government needs to increase investments in creating new jobs for rejuvenating the economy in the post-pandemic time. The inability to spend on health, education and agriculture sectors as required would slow down the pace of economic development.
If government investment does not increase now, private investment will not either. So, it has become imperative that ADPs are implemented in a more planned and standardised manner in the remaining time, they add.
Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director at the Policy Research Institute, told The Business Standard that in terms of spending, the trend of going slow at the beginning of a fiscal year and rushing towards the end is an old problem. Work standards cannot be maintained because of the last moment rush.
"Moreover, prices of construction materials, including rods and cement, are now on the rise. That is why many contractors are now working at a slower pace in the hope that project costs will be adjusted," he said.
A decrease in fund disbursements for many projects owing to a comparatively low revenue collection has also contributed to projects running at a slow pace, Dr Ahsan H Mansur added.
In this pandemic situation, spending on the health sector was supposed to be the highest, but that did not happen, the economist continued.
Among the ministries and divisions that received the highest allocations, the health services division spent the least.
According to the IMED report, the health services division put on the worst performance with only 9.84% spending from its allocated fund under the ADP in the first six months of the current fiscal year.
Officials at the health services division said most of those who are involved in implementing health projects are doctors and they do not have enough experience in project spending, leading to the delay in the ADP implementation.
The shipping ministry, one of the highest recipients of allocation, spent only 11%, while the Bridges Division, which is implementing megaprojects such as the Padma Bridge and the Karnaphuli tunnel, could use up 17.68% from the allocation as of December.
The implementation rate of the industries ministry was more than 50% – the highest among the top recipients.
Ministries and divisions that spent less than 10% from their respective allocations include the Financial Institutions Division, the commerce ministry, the Security Service Division, the Statistics and Informatics Division, and the foreign affairs ministry.