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The Financial Express

Japanese 41st ODA fund use unsatisfactory

SYFUL ISLAM | Published: January 18, 2020 10:19:28 | Updated: January 20, 2020 13:37:34


Japanese 41st ODA fund use unsatisfactory

The fund disbursement for 31 projects under the 41st Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme in nine months was only 42 per cent of the target which Japanese officials termed as unsatisfactory.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Economic Relations Division (ERD) recently reviewed the progress on ODA-funded projects in Dhaka.

Some 177,705 million yen or $1.628 billion was set aside for the 31 projects from the 41st ODA programme for the Japanese fiscal year 2019 (April 2019-March 2020).

However, the reviewers found that until November 2019 only 75,150 million yen has been disbursed against the projects.

They also found that only eight, out of 31 projects, are on the track, while nineteen projects are lagging behind the target, and four others are yet to take off as they did not see any fund disbursements this fiscal.

JICA Bangladesh chief representative Hitoshi Hirata termed the current progress in the ODA-funded projects "not satisfactory".

Under the ODA programme the projects are supported from Japan's low-cost loans.

Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Monwar Ahmed, who presided over the meeting, asked the executing agencies concerned to quicken implementation.

"If we are to achieve our target, we need to expedite implementation of projects," he said.

The projects on track include Khulna water supply project, Jamuna railway bridge construction, national power transmission network development, Kanchpur-Meghna-Gumti second bridges and Dhaka MRT line-06, Dhaka-Chattogram main power grid strengthening project, and energy efficiency and conservation promotion project.

The projects that received no funds are disaster risk management enhancement, Dhaka underground substation, Matarbari port development and Dhaka MRT line-05.

Fund disbursements for three projects-Inclusive city government, haor flood management and livelihood investment, and urban building safety-have fallen far short of the target.

The target was set at 14,359 million yen for these projects, but only 556 million or 3.8 per cent of the target, was disbursed until November.

At the meeting, JICA-Bangladesh office senior representative Taro Katsurai talked about the delay in compensating the people affected due to the projects.

According to the JICA social and environmental guideline, paying compensation for land acquisition without any delay is very important, he said.

Mr Katsurai said the process of compensating the landowners is very slow for some important projects, especially the Kalna bridge construction scheme.

At a previous meeting, a senior JICA official cited three reasons -- slow start-up, less speed and quality, and annual development programme (ADP) budget allocation -- behind this delay in project implementation.

He said the delay in the approval of development project proposal and technical assistance project pro forma holds up a project by two to three years.

A senior finance ministry official said project execution is delayed for various reasons in Bangladesh, especially for the land acquisition problem.

Project directors should be more active in removing obstacles and expediting project implementation, he told the FE on Thursday.

syful-islam@outlook.com

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