Coronavirus pandemic has impinged on the project implementation rate as the government agencies executed only 80 per cent in the just-concluded fiscal year, official data shows.
However, the public agencies had showed a surprising performance in June when they executed 23 per cent of the annual development programme or ADP.
Until May of FY2020, the implementation rate was 57 per cent, with monthly accomplishment averaging 5.18 per cent.
Officials at the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division or IMED said the ministries and agencies spent Tk 1.61 trillion, or 80 per cent of the total outlay of Tk 2.01 trillion ADP in the fiscal year that ended in June.
In FY2019, the project implementation rate was recorded at 95 per cent, 15 per cent higher than that of the just-concluded fiscal, the IMED data showed.
Development analysts were critical of such type of development work in a single month, saying maintaining quality is almost impossible if about one-fifth of the total allocations are spent in a single.
According to the IMED, the Railway Ministry was the worst performer among the big ministries that grabbed nearly 78 per cent of the outlay.
Besides, the Public Works Ministry, Primary and Mass Education Ministry, Health Services Division, Water Resources Ministry and Science and Technology Ministry secured spots at the bottom.
IMED secretary Abul Mansur Mohammad Faizullah told the FE that the coronavirus was the main enemy for them in the last four months, which reduced the ADP implementation rate.
In addition, the development partners' complex fund release, procurement and approval process had affected the project execution, he added.
When asked about the unusual jump in project execution in June, Mr Faizullah said that has been happening over the years as the bills were usually released in the last month, which is called the June closing.
According to the IMED, the Ministry of Railway spent only Tk 58.82 billion, which is 57 per cent of its total outlay of Tk 102.49 billion.
The second worst project implementer was the Public Work Ministry, which used only Tk 49.16 billion, 70 per cent of its total allocation.
The Primary and Mass Education Ministry, the 3rd largest budget holder, spent Tk 64.81 billion, 71 per cent of the total.
Economist Dr Ahsan H Mansur said it is impossible to implement 23 per cent of ADP in a single month.
"If this trend of huge development fund spending in the last month cannot be checked, the quality of the projects will not be maintained and the country will suffer in the long run. The things have started to prove during this COVID period," he told the FE.
The project implementing authority withdrew excess funds from the government coffers against their projects, which they showed in the June closing, he added.
If the government monitors the month-on-month physical progress of the projects under the ADP, then the people could get the actual picture of the implementation rate, argued Dr Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, a think tank.