The government approved Wednesday ten development projects involving a total cost of Tk 51.81 billion.
With Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presiding, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its meeting at the Planning Commission endorsed the projects.
Official sources said three of the projects were "politically motivated". The three are: 'Universal social infrastructure development project' costing Tk 6.65 billion, 'Important rural infrastructure development in Sylhet Division project' at Tk 12.14 billion, and 'Important rural infrastructure development in Greater Comilla district (3rd phase) project' involving Tk 9.86 billion.
Some PC officials said the first project mentioned above was undertaken for developing infrastructures like mosques, temples, sports grounds etc where Members of Parliament (MPs) will get Tk 10 million to spend in each of the upazilas across the country.
Besides, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) has undertaken two other rural infrastructure-development projects in Sylhet and greater Comilla under "pressure" from a couple of ruling party bigwigs, they told the FE.
The officials said many important projects are being left out from the priority lists of the government every year because of endorsing some "politically motivated" ones.
Meanwhile, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at a media briefing after the ECNEC meeting said: "The MPs will not have direct access to the funds but the work will be done according to their preferences."
The project earmarks Tk 10 million for each upazila, that is, Tk 4.91 billion for a total of 491 upazilas, excluding areas under city corporations, the minister said.
"Another Tk 1.09 billion will be made available as block allocations for related spending under the project. This fund will be spent based on need and urgency," he told the press.
Each religious establishment will have a minimum of Tk 0.5 million worth funds ex-gratia for development.
The deadline for the project is June 2020. Mr Kamal said the ECNEC Wednesday approved 10 development projects at an aggregate cost of Tk 51.81 billion.
"Out of the cost, Tk 44.62 billion will be provided by the government from its own exchequer, while Tk 6.99 billion from the external resources as project aid. The project- executing agencies concerned will provide remaining Tk 199.3 million from their own funds for the approved projects."
The ECNEC-endorsed other projects are: Protection of the slop at the embankments at Sandwip at Tk 1.97 billion, Water supply and sanitation in 23 municipalities at Tk 9.92 billion, Residential building construction for the cleaners of Narayanganj City Corporation at Tk 996.6 million, and Bridge construction on the Aricha-Doulatpur-Ghior-Tangail road project at Tk 651.5 million.
It also revised the setting up of computer-and language-training labs project at Tk 3.98 billion, Protection of Khudbandi, Shingrabari and Shuvogacha area under Kajipur Upazial of Sirajganj district from the Jamuna River erosion at Tk 4.65 billion, and Construction of integrated office building in Gopalganj project costing Tk 979.4 million.
Ministers, Members of the Planning Commission and high officials of the relevant ministries were present at the ECNEC meeting.