The Financial Express

Welcome approach to rid ADP of wasteful projects

| Updated: September 01, 2022 21:27:33

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Projects under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) in Bangladesh are traditionally dogged by their chronic failure to meet the timelines for implementation.  As a result, not surprisingly, revision, often a euphemism for cost escalation, follows as a corollary. What happens are invariably poor quality and hurriedly done projects at costs higher than estimated initially. A study done to this effect has found that over the past few years, in more than 80 per cent of the cases, the ADP projects were either revised or got extension due to shortcomings in project execution. Almost in every case the reasons for such poor ADP performance lay in either a defective feasibility study, or a delay in inviting tender for procurement and land acquisition, or changes in a project design made halfway through its implementation. In the past, efforts were made to improve ADP performance and some steps were also taken to that end. Those include, for example, holding regular meetings with the project directors and mid-term review of project implementation status. But little progress could be made so far in that direction.

It is against this backdrop that the government has now come up with yet another strategy to remove the bottlenecks in ADP project implementation. It involves, as reported, introduction of an 'information form', which the  project authority concerned would be required to fill in, in case it intends to extend implementation time or revise project cost. The information form, so designed, it is said, will help the Planning Commission (PC) to have a complete overview of the implementation status of the project in question. Notably, the PC officials as reported are quite convinced that the said information form provides an adequate format to obtain a comprehensive picture of project implementation at any point of time.

Based on that information, the PC, it is believed, would be able to decide if a project in question qualifies for a time extension or cost revision or not. Made at a time when the economy is reeling from unprecedented rise in the cost of goods and services due to inflation, the move seems well-timed. It is more so because there is still no sign of any letup in the international arena so far as the inflationary trends in the global economy are concerned. Understandably, in the face of such economic uncertainties at home and  abroad, the government has felt constrained to adopt some austerity measures of which this novel approach to cut ADP cost is a part.

So, one is hardly surprised to see that, as reported in the Monday's issue of this paper, some 717 projects out of a total 1,300 for the current fiscal year (FY23) may either be delisted from the ADP, or get less amounts of fund than originally earmarked in the budget.  Against this backdrop, it is believed that through proper application of the newly devised method of scrutiny based on the so-called information form, the government would be able to rid the current ADP worth Tk2.46 trillion of wasteful projects. Needless to say, such cost-saving measures are essential for the state exchequer at the moment. It would be worthwhile to recall at this point that other well-meaning efforts made earlier to this end fell through due mainly to the lack of will on the part of those overseeing the entire exercise. Hopefully, such failures could be avoided this time.

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