Of the 15 ministries or departments that received the highest allocation in the Annual Development Programme (ADP), the Health Service Division lags behind in terms of utilising the fund they were granted.
The disclosure was made in the updated ADP report of the Division of Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation (IMED).
In the first three months of the financial year (July-September), the health division was able to spend only 2.33% of its allocation. The average ADP implementation rate of the 15 ministries and divisions in the same period was 8.48%.
Officials of IMED said the Health Services Division has been struggling to implement the ADP since the beginning of the financial year. At the current pace, concerns have been raised whether a significant portion of the allocation can be spent by the end of the financial year.
Despite the state of affairs amid Covid-19 in the health sector, the division had an ADP implementation rate of 57.9%, the lowest among the 15 ministries and departments with the highest allocation.
In addition to the health division, less than 8% was spent by the Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Ministries and departments that spent more than average include the Local Government Division, Power Division, Road Transport and Highways Division, Secondary and Higher Education Division, Primary and Mass Education Division, Bridge Division, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Industries and Ministry of Railways.
On condition of anonymity, a senior official of the health division said that it had given more importance to tackling Covid-19 in the last financial year, which inhibited its purchasing capacity.
Even if the ADP implementation rate was low at the beginning, it will increase during the rest of the fiscal year as unfinished purchase work from last year would be completed this time.
In addition, steps have been taken to complete the newly added procurement work, the official added.
He also mentioned that the ministry has already sent several instructions to the field level for speedy implementation of ADP.
Health service officials also said that due the slow rate stemmed from complexity in project implementation. As most of the project directors were doctors, their lack of experience in financing and construction according to government rules was another bottleneck.
Echoing this, Researcher and Associate Professor of Institute of Health Economics at the University of Dhaka Shafiun Nahin Shimul said the project directors, who were mostly doctors, had little idea about how to go about implementing projects or making expenditures.
These officials are afraid of spending money, he said.
Shimul said the doctors were also dependent on the staff to implement the project, but unscrupulous officials and employees took advantage of this.
Due to this, there was corruption and delays in project implementation in the health sector.