Irregularities, delay affect govt child home project

FHM HUMAYAN KABIR | Saturday, 14 May 2022

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has kept aside Tk 48,600 as monthly salary for an office helper (peon) at its child home project, insiders said.

Besides, it has proposed Tk 35,760 salary per month for each of a computer operator and a driver at the Tk 2.76-billion "Construction/reconstruction of government child home and babies' residence project", they added.

The department has also proposed Tk 2.76 million funds for paying honorarium to the participants for attending project-related meetings.

The honorarium will be paid to the members (civil servants) of the project steering committee, project implementation committee, tender evaluation committee, and TIC, for their 104 meetings over the execution period, officials involved with the project told the FE.

In addition, the DSS has also calculated unusually high cost for some other components of the project, they added.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Welfare has recently sought revision of the project from the Planning Commission (PC), extending its cost by 30 per cent to Tk 3.85 billion.

The agency has also sought three more years up to June 2024 for completing the project despite failing to start its main works within the stipulated deadline of June 2021.

According to the DSS, it has spent only 3.0 per cent of the Tk 2.76 billion funds, although the project started four years ago. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project in 2018.

Under the project, the department will build or rebuild 19 child homes and babies' residences across the country.

According to the project proposal, the authority will purchase one jeep and one double-cabin pick-up at a total cost of Tk 13.6 million.

Besides, the department will purchase automated hand sanitiser machines at Tk 20,000 each, which is higher than its real market price. According to available price list on internet, the price of automated hand sanitiser machine in Bangladesh market ranges from Tk 6,000 to Tk 12,000 each.

When asked, a PC official told the FE that there are some unusual cost estimations at the project, which are being seriously scrutinised.

"If we find those non-realistic, we will urge the project implementing authority to recast its proposal by reflecting realistic prices and costs for goods, works and services," he added.

About the delay, a project official told the FE that its execution was delayed for the Public Works Department (PWD), assigned for the construction works, as it failed to select contractors for building the homes.

Now, the government has decided to award contract for building the 19 child homes across the country to the Bangladesh Navy.

"After getting revision from the PC, we are hopeful of completing the project works by the deadline in June 2024," he added.

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