Acute fund crisis
Mahfuja Mukul: Due to the acute dollar and fund crisis in the country, the future of 1496 development projects are uncertain on time. Poor revenue collection, slower supply of resources from the internal sources and less interest of the donor agencies are the main reason hinderances behind the smoother running of the development programs.
Teletalk, a state-owned mobile phone network service provider, wants to launch 5G technology commercially in the Dhaka metropolitan area. The cost has been estimated at Tk 236.54 crore. However, 80 percent of the parts of the project have to be imported from abroad. For which you have to count dollars. ECNEC rejected the project to cut costs in the wake of the global economic crisis.
Similarly, the government has refrained from approving projects dependent on foreign loans or foreign imports. The commission is approving the project by verifying the current context. No visible mega projects have been sanctioned in 2022.
At the beginning of this year, 10-12 projects were approved in each ECNEC meeting, but at the end of the year it reduced to six. A year and a half ago, the National Economic Council Executive Committee (ECNEC) meeting was held every week to approve the project. Now there is an average of one per month. On the other hand, there are very few projects coming up. Many project proposals from ministries and departments are being sent back. Mainly due to austerity policy in government expenditure, project approvals are decreasing.
In this regard, Planning Minister MA Mannan told that currently we are approving the project very carefully. Due to which the number of projects is decreasing. Previously, regular meetings were held every Tuesday. But due to the Corona situation and the subsequent global recession, the government had to adopt an austerity policy. The project is being taken under a lot of scrutiny. No project gets approval if it is not necessary.
We survive because we approve projects thoughtfully. Now is the time to live, time to save. Ministry-department project proposals are not approved. We have few check posts. I am scrutinizing the projects there. After this, the project is being presented in ECNEC meeting.
According to the Planning Commission, one lakh 25 thousand crore rupees can be saved from the Annual Development Program (ADP) in the current financial year. Earlier, there were several meetings every Tuesday. But now it’s not happening every week anymore. The last ECNEC meeting was held on November 22. After that it didn’t happen anymore. In the last six months of the current financial year, only five ECNEC meetings have been held. 30 projects were approved in these meetings. It will cost about Tk 30 thousand crore. A total of 18 meetings were held in the last financial year. But before Corona, there were an average of 50 meetings per financial year.
In the current financial year, no major projects have been approved in the ECNEC meeting. However, a major proposal for the purchase of EVMs was sent to the Planning Commission. But it has not been approved yet. The Election Commission (EC) wants to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in at least 150 constituencies in the upcoming 12th National Assembly elections. The cost has been estimated at Tk 8,711 crore. The price of each EVM is Tk 3 lakh 33 thousand.
As a result, the cost to buy EVMs will be Tk 6,660 crore and 29 lakh. Besides, the cost of construction of ten warehouses including land has been estimated at around Tk 77 crore. Altogether the total cost of the project stands at Tk 8,711 crore 44 lakh.
According to ECNEC meeting sources, on January 4 this year, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved 10 projects at a cost of around Tk 11,211 crore 44 lakh. Then on January 25, ECNEC approved 10 projects at a cost of about Tk 4,621 crore 34 lakh. Out of this, government funding is Tk 3,055 crore 21 lakh and foreign funding is Tk 1,566 crore 13 lakh. Later, 11 projects were approved at a cost of Tk 37,507 crore 22 lakh in the ECNEC meeting on February 8.
On February 22, the Executive Committee of the Economic Council (ECNEC) approved 10 projects at a cost of around Tk 8,80.41 crore. Then on March 22; 12 projects were approved at a cost of around Tk 15,744 crore 56 lakh. Later on, April 5, 12 projects at a cost of Tk 12,016 crore 88 lakh were approved in the ECNEC meeting.
Another ECNEC meeting was held in April. In that meeting on April 19, 11 projects were approved at a cost of about Tk 4,541 crore and 81 lakh. Then on May 10, ECNEC approved 11 projects at a cost of about Tk 5,825 crore 74 lakh. Later on, June 14, 10 projects with an expenditure of Tk 10,85.56 crore were approved in the ECNEC meeting. In the same month (June 28) ECNEC approved 10 projects at a cost of Tk 2216.75 crore.
Eight projects were approved at a cost of Tk 15,856.80 crore on 9 July of the current financial year. On August 2, 7 projects with an expenditure of Tk 2,757.00 crore were approved. Then on August 16, ECNEC approved six projects at a cost of Tk 2,5047.50 crore. The total cost of 7 projects approved in ECNEC meeting on November 8 is Tk 3,981.90 crore. In the last meeting on November 22, 8 projects were approved at a cost of Tk 4,826.21 crore.
Allocation of 25 percent of the approved 636 projects has been suspended
Due to the global economic situation, the government adopted the austerity policy at the beginning of the current financial year. At the beginning of the current financial year, it was decided to divide the projects into three categories according to their importance. Based on this, the Planning Commission reorganized the project last August.
In the new format, the most important projects are categorized as ‘A’. Implementation of these projects is continuing on priority basis. There are 646 such projects in ‘A’ category. In terms of importance, medium level projects have been placed in category ‘B’. There are 636 such projects. 25 percent allocation of government share has been suspended in these projects. And the exemption of the entire amount of the projects in category ‘C’ has been suspended for the time being. The number of projects in this category is 85.
The number of projects in this category is 85. In total, against 1,496 projects, the total amount allocated to ADP in the current financial year is Tk 2 lakh 56 thousand crore.
Economists are taking this as positive. According to them, if more projects are taken, they are not implemented on time. Besides, if the project is suspended, the government’s money is wasted. As a result, economists claim that the government is taking fewer projects to save money.
Finance advisor of the former caretaker government AB Mirza Azizul Islam told that if more projects are approved, they will not be implemented. The government’s ADP budget is divided many times. Project time increases. As a result, many projects are being implemented for 7 to 8 years. It is wasting government money. Currently there is a global recession. In this situation, the government is carefully taking projects to prevent wastage of money.
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