The government agencies executed only 24 per cent of the annual development programme in the first half of the current fiscal in a sign of sluggish project work, officials said on Wednesday.
They said although the economy reopened six months ago, the implementation rate of the ministries and agencies during July-December of the fiscal year 2020-21 was 3.0 percentage points lower than that of the last fiscal.
In the last fiscal, the government bodies implemented 27 per cent of their ADP during the H1, official statistics showed.
In December, the public agencies spent only 5.96 per cent of their total ADP allocations, 1.39 percentage points lower than that of the same month in FY2020, the state-run Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) data showed.
A senior Planning Commission official said the COVID-19 hit hard the development work, which slowed down the project activities during the last few months.
According to the IMED, the government ministries and agencies spent Tk 512.66 billion, or 23.89 per cent of the Tk 2.146 trillion ADP outlay during the period.
In the same period last fiscal, they spent Tk 571.96 billion, or 26.59 per cent of the total ADP allocation of 2.15 trillion, the IMED data showed.
A senior IMED official echoed his commission colleague and blamed the virus for the slow project work.
"Although the government has reopened almost all economic activities in the last few months, the public agencies have failed to prove their capacity in project implementation,' he told the FE requesting anonymity.
"We repeatedly give reminders to the executing agencies for completing their tender processing, procurement and other work in time, but they fail to do so resulting in the lower execution rate," he added.
Another commission official said the foreign-funded projects were the worst-performing as the agencies failed to use aid.
During the H1, the government agencies utilised only Tk 175.63 billion, 24 per cent of the total Tk 705.02 billion aid allocated in the current ADP.
Though the implementation rate was the same in the last fiscal, it was 30 per cent in FY2019 and 33 per cent in FY2018, the IMED data showed.
The capacity to utilise internal resources in the ADP was not good either, with the execution rate hovering at 24 per cent of the total Tk 1.346 trillion government fund allocations during the H1. In FY2020, the rate was spent 26.59 per cent.
This correspondent found that many projects, especially larger ones, faced blow after the outbreak of the COVID 19 virus as foreign consultants and contractors halted their movement.
A Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) official said the functions of the 1320-megawatt (MW) Rampal thermal power plant had been halted for five months as local and Indian consultants, engineers and workers suspended their work.
"Now we were falling short of the target from the stipulated deadline for completion of the work," he added.
The government formulated a Tk 2.146 trillion worth ADP incorporating 1,724 ongoing development projects for execution.
Another IMED official said the performance of some big ministries and agencies was not satisfactory in the first two months of the current fiscal, which affected the overall ADP spending rate.
The Bridges Division, Health, Science and Technology, Public Works, Shipping and Civil Aviation and Tourism ministries were the worst performers.