The government has been able to spend 93% of its development budget in the recently concluded FY2021-22, as the outlay jumped exponentially in the last three months, official data has shown.
The tranche of Tk203,765 crore being spent from the development budget restores the implementation of the annual development programme (ADP) to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest data of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED).
Development spending was 94.66% in FY2018-19. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it dropped to 80.39% in FY2019-20 and 82.11% in FY2020-21.
"Our ADP implementation capacity has increased. Spending has returned to pre-pandemic levels and will tick up further in the future," said IMED Secretary Abu Hena Morshed Zaman.
According to IMED data, Tk104,830 crore – which is more than half of the annual development budget – was spent in the last three months of the just concluded fiscal year.
However, Planning Minister MA Mannan, who released the IMED report to the media on Tuesday, termed the huge outlay towards the end of the fiscal year as "normal".
Pradip Ranjan Chakraborty, member (secretary) of the Programming Division of the Planning Commission, said basically preparatory work is carried out at the beginning of the fiscal year, due to which spending remains low. More money is spent at the end of the year as development works usually gain pace then.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, said money allocated in the development budget goes back to the state coffers if it is not spent within the time. Therefore, contractors in development projects are paid in advance to show higher ADP implementation.
He advocated a rolling over of the unspent allocation to the next budget so that works do not compromise with quality due to the spending pressure.
Mustafa K Mujeri, former director general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), pointed the finger at hasty spending for substandard implementation.
"It is simply a waste of public resources," he added.
Of the 15 ministries and divisions that received the highest ADP allocation last year, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Secondary and Higher Education Division and Health Services Division spent the least from the development budget.
The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education spent 76.21%, Secondary and Higher Education Division 70.59% and Health Services Division 79% of their development allocations.
The Local Government Division spent 92%, Road Transport and Highways Division 99%, Power Division 101.9%, Ministry of Science and Technology 91%, Ministry of Railways 91.28%, Ministry of Water Resources 96%, Ministry of Housing and Public Works 99.57%, Bridges Division 98%, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism 95.35%, Ministry of Shipping 96.59%, Ministry of Industries 112.23% and Prime Minister's Office 89.44% of their development allocations.