2 years ago

ADB irked by slow progress in project execution in Bangladesh

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The Asian Development Bank is going to be tougher on funding Bangladesh's development recipe as the financier reviews a slew of slow-moving projects this month, officials said Friday.

Just one-and-a-half-month ago, the Manila-based lender also scrutinised those projects and took a critical view of their weak implementation trajectory, they added.

The ADB will sit with government's project-executing agencies for a review of the implementation progress of the already-approved projects, some of which are moving slow even after confirmation of the funds, they said.

The Economic Relations Division (ERD), the ADB and the directors of the ADB-funded projects are expected to sit for a two-day tripartite review meeting (TPRM) on November 24-25 in Dhaka.

"We will sit with the ADB and the project directors to review the projects," an additional secretary at the ERD told the FE.

He said they would basically make a stocktaking of the slow-moving projects in a bid to remove the bottlenecks and expedite their execution.

The TPRM will review some 60-70 ADB-funded projects in a bunch, the ERD official said.

The lender is financing some 52 projects in Bangladesh with some US$12.03 billion worth of funds so far confirmed.

According to the ERD, more than 40 projects are on a slow lane with poor progress as their weak performance from approval process to implementation stage crippled the execution works.

"The ADB in the last review meeting had cautioned the weak project-implementing agencies. If they failed to streamline the execution, the Bank would be forced to withdraw the funds," he said.

The slow-moving projects include the Tk42.68 billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Dhaka Airport to Gazipur, Tk 36.02-billion-cost Railway Rolling Stock Operations Improvement project, SASEC Road Connectivity project, SASEC Gazipur to Rangpur 4-lane road project, and SASEC Chittagong-Cox's Bazar railway project.

Besides, though undertaken back in 2014, the implementing agencies have failed to execute the Dhaka environmentally sustainable water- supply project, SASEC rail connectivity: Akhaura-Laksam double-track project, Urban governance and infrastructure improvement (sector) project-3, Flood and riverbank erosion risk management investment programme-1, Irrigation management improvement project, and Flood and riverbank erosion risk management investment programme.

ERD officials said it is needed to build stronger project pipeline and ensure higher project readiness and improved implementation discipline for better portfolio performance to boost the ongoing socioeconomic recovery process in the country.

"We are emphasising faster and compliant procurement of goods and services to increase contract award and fund disbursement, complimenting government initiatives for creating jobs and increasing public investment," said the ERD official about their resolve to be conveyed to the development financier.

In the previous review in March 2021, the TPRM had also asked the implementing agencies to speed up approval for the pipeline projects for the fiscal year 2021-2022, and agreed on utilization of the project money expeditiously for the slow-moving projects.

The Asian bank is facilitating Bangladesh's six sectors - energy, transport, water and urban/municipal infrastructure and services, education, finance, and agriculture, natural resources and rural development for development with its financial support.

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