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ADB cautions against 13 problem projects

Lending could cross $1.5b by next year


FE REPORT | Published: November 26, 2019 10:11:01 | Updated: November 26, 2019 15:29:15


— Reuters file photo

The Asian Development Bank, or ADB, on Monday urged government agencies to implement projects in time, which faced hiccups in execution, officials said.

The Manila-based lender has also cautioned that if the agencies fail to implement the problem projects in time, it will reconsider its commitments against 13 out of 52 ongoing projects, they said

The ADB, Economic Relations Division (ERD) and the project implementing agencies took part in a tripartite portfolio review meeting on Monday in Dhaka.

Farida Nasreen, Additional Secretary of the ERD, and Manmohan Parkash, country director of the ADB, co-chaired the meeting.

The greater Dhaka sustainable urban transport, South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity, railway Akhaura-Laksham railway double-track, railway rolling stock improvement, Dhaka water supply network improvement, and power system expansion and efficiency improvement are among the problem projects.

The ADB has also identified the procurement, quality of contractors and consultants, financial management, contract management, land acquisition and resettlement, project design, and approval and revision for development or technical proposals are the common challenges for improving project implementation in Bangladesh.

ERD additional secretary Farida Nasreen told the FE that in the meeting, project directors had pledged to go by the action plan.

"I've asked the PDs and line ministries to expedite project execution as some of these are struggling for the implementation delays. We hope the agencies will take care of their projects with highest priority," she said.

In the review meeting, Mr Parkash said with a rapidly growing portfolio, the complexity and challenges have also grown, requiring all parties to work hard and together with a problem-solving attitude.

He assured the government of extending support to Bangladesh if the agencies could perform better.

Mr Parkash said his bank is expected to disburse more than US$1.5 billion worth of funds over the next year to help implement several projects of Bangladesh.

"In 2019, we are targeting a record $1.70 billion in contract awards and $1.23 billion in disbursement, and in 2020, I hope disbursements would cross $1.5 billion," the ADB country head said.

The ADB-government portfolio meeting discussed the overall portfolio status and prioritised actions to achieve development results timely.

Ms Nasreen urged project directors to regularly visit the sites, monitor work completion progress, and keep track on fund disbursement to accelerate implementation.

The ADB's current portfolio has 52 projects with over $10.5 billion under sovereign portfolio.

The Bank focuses its cooperation in Bangladesh on six sectors-energy, transport, water, urban and municipal infrastructure and services, education, finance, agriculture, natural resources, and rural development.

ADB's cumulative lending to Bangladesh stands at around $25 billion.

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