The government has included a record number of 1,664 unapproved fresh projects in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year, mostly on political considerations, insiders said Friday.
The unapproved projects that outnumber the approved ones do not have any allocation against their names in the ADP. The government's highest economic policy-making body -- the National Economic Council (NEC) -- approved the ADP for the next fiscal year (FY) Thursday last.
The number of unapproved projects is up by 317 from the approved ones, included in the Tk 1.73 trillion ADP for the next fiscal year (FY) 2018-19.
Development experts said the rise in unapproved projects without fund allocations in the ADP is a bad practice.
Out of the 1,664 unapproved projects, a total of 1,338 are proposed to be financed from internal sources while 326 others are expected to be financed with resources coming from bilateral and multilateral donors.
In the original Tk 1.57 trillion ADP for the FY 2018, the government incorporated a total of 1,675 unapproved projects without allocation of funds.
"We have included many of these projects coming under political pressure. We know that some of those projects are not necessary for the country at this moment," a top official at the Planning Commission (PC) told the FE.
The official said if you analyse the number of unapproved projects, you will see that the highest number of those projects have come from the Road Transport and Highways Division, the Local Government Division, the Ministry of Railway and the Water Development Board.
The largest number of unapproved fresh projects (152) has come from the Road Transport and Highways Division. The number is higher than that of approved projects -- 131.
More than 100 unapproved projects each have come from the Bangladesh Railway, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the Ministry of Home and the Water Development Board for inclusion in the next year's ADP.
"Many unapproved fresh projects in the ADP ultimately remain unimplemented every year due to lack of adequate fund allocations, proper feasibility study and designs," said another PC official requesting anonymity.
Development experts have opposed this kind of government initiatives, saying that this system not only affects the quality of work, but also creates scope for misappropriation of public funds.
Former finance and planning adviser to the caretaker government Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam told the FE that since most of the fresh projects are included on "political consideration" without any feasibility study, those do not get adequate funds after their approval by the government, resulting in both cost and time overrun and less impact on national development.
"Since the next fiscal year will encompass election period, the government just wants to show the people that they have undertaken projects although those may not receive adequate allocations from the government," Dr Islam said.
He said the government should not continue with the culture of including unapproved projects in the ADP. Rather it should make serious attempts to improve the quality work of the ongoing projects.
A PC member said: "In most cases, very few projects get allocations in the revised ADP or the following year's ADP. This results in escalation of cost of such projects."