Designing the Annual Development Plan (ADP) for the upcoming financial year (2020-21) is no doubt going to be a litmus test for the government in the wake of the covid-19 and its fallout on the entire economy, including a critically vulnerable area -- food security. Since it is well beyond the knowledge of the economists and policy planners as to the damage already caused to the myriad sectors of the economy and the likely impact in the days ahead, contemplating on the ADP will call for huge homework, depending mostly on conjectures. Conjectures are not new to planners, and the most that can be derived at this point in time is from past experience and thorough observation of the realities. Normally, as has been the case over the past years, the government is keenly eager to undertake mega development projects, but this time around, the ADP is likely to focus mainly on the corona-induced fallouts than taking up projects that are not immediately necessary, let alone big projects.
Reports say the Planning Commission is busy framing the ADP for the fiscal year 2020-21 with a strong focus on rebuilding the economy, unsettled by coronavirus and shutdown. Three areas have been identified for high priority, according to officials of the Planning Commission. These are-- combating coronavirus and its fallout, agriculture, and social safety-net programmes. The Commission has reportedly received proposals along with estimation of funds from various ministries. Commission officials are hopeful to finalise examination of the proposals in the light of the priorities they have set and take up the funding issues with the finance ministry to be able to frame the ADP by next month.
Clearly, the ADP this time would exclude less important development projects in order that the money saved could be prudently used in the aforementioned priority areas. It has been gathered that 330 projects have been identified as of less priority from which approximately Tk 100 billion can be saved to be spent in priority sectors. The crux of planning mechanism would thus depend on how to allocate resources in ways that directly address the problem areas as well as suggest precise modalities for effective and speedy implementation of projects. Special emphasis needs to be on safety-net programmes that allegedly are not well-programmed for the most part. Hence remodelling the entire programme including modalities pertaining to execution, accountability and close monitoring must be clearly spelt out. As regards the ongoing priority development projects, including the fast-track and mega projects, allocation of required resources must not be stopped.
The original size of the current ADP was Tk 2.02 trillion, which was trimmed to Tk 1.93 trillion in early March this year. The executing agencies have, as of March, implemented little over 38 per cent of ADP in the first eight months of the current fiscal. That means, there is ample scope for reexamining the status of the current ADP and if needed, slashing out some of the less important projects to divert fund for better and timely utilisation in priority areas.
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