There are 117 projects with zero physical progress in the 2020-21 fiscal year (FY21) – some of the development schemes just spent for staff salary and office expenditures, with the implementation heading nowhere, according to a report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED).
The number of projects with less than 25% of physical progress is 108. Some 131 projects report 28%-50% in terms of physical progress. The IMED report states that the implementation of these projects is not satisfactory.
The report will be presented at a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Wednesday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
It has identified some 264 projects that were ended in the last fiscal year. Of them, 140 projects completed cent percent physical works, while the remaining projects were declared completed, leaving aside implementation.
The report has also categorised the 1954 projects commissioned in the revised annual development programme (ADP) for FY21 on the basis of the implementing agencies' capacity to utilise the allocated funds.
It said as many as 212 projects registered zero to below 25% spending against the revised annual development target last year, which has been termed "frustrating" by the monitoring and evaluation authorities.
Not a single penny was spent in 90 projects against an allocation of Tk1,789 crore, while 122 others could spend below 25% of the allocation of Tk9,794 crore in the revised ADP, according to the report.
The reasons for the sluggish project spending noted by the IMED are typical: land acquisition issues, tender delay, lack of feasibility study and planning and project undertaking without any foreign funding assurance.
Zaid Bakht, former research director at the public research agency Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said the delinquency seems to have turned frequent every year thanks to a lack of implementation sincerity.
In this regard, he referred to three major implementation flaws – uncertain land acquisition, not appointing a project director on time and project undertaking without ensuring funding.
The ex-BIDS researcher called for sincerity, proper planning prior to project undertaking and not taking on too many projects than the capacity.
The IMED report says out of the total 1954 projects, spending on 130 projects hovers around 26%-50%. Some 320 projects log 51%-75% spending, while 302 works clocked an "appreciable" 100% spending.
The IMED flagged a number of ministries and divisions with lower appetite for foreign aid. The list comprises 11 ministries and divisions, including Health Services Division, Prime Minister's Office, Internal Resources Division, Information Ministry, Law Ministry, Food Ministry, Land Ministry and Social Welfare ministry, which spent 50% or less last year.