The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has emphasised quick implementation of its financed projects in Bangladesh, ensuring quality and value for money.
"Fast project implementation is a key to ensure effective and efficient development. The faster the projects are implemented, the earlier their results are delivered to people, thereby enabling them to get benefits more quickly," the ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash said.
"We have undertaken several reform initiatives to expedite project implementation."
He said these at the inaugural ceremony of a three-daylong workshop on project implementation - "Delivering Faster, Better, Stronger Development Outcomes" - in the capital on Sunday.
The ADB country director also said selection of projects for its financing will be made on the basis of their readiness.
"This is because we believe it is very important that the projects are completed on time, within cost, and with proper quality."
"When projects are completed on time, within cost and with proper quality, they deliver the best outcomes."
He noted that after completion of three bridges and two underpasses, total travel time on the Dhaka-Cumilla Highway has reduced from over four hours to less than one and a half hours, and from 7-8 hours to four and a half hours on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.
In 2017, the ADB adopted a new procurement framework, which marks a paradigm shift. It embodies two new principles - quality and value for money.
"Gone are the days when cost used to be the only determining factor. Quality and value for money have been included as two new principles in addition to economy, fairness, efficiency and transparency."
Mr Parkash further said from a procedure-based approach, the ADB has adopted a more principle- and risk-based approach to procurement. It now considers capacity of the executing agencies, and adopts a differentiated approach based on project risk assessment.
The new procurement policy promotes open competitive bidding based on market condition. It is simple, flexible and provides more holistic support from design stage to project completion.
"The new framework encourages better suppliers, contractors and consultants to work for the ADB-financed projects, helping to deliver projects in a faster time, with better quality, and within cost. All these will eventually help us to ensure better project outcomes."
The ADB country director said Bangladesh achieved a significant milestone in 2018 by meeting the criteria for graduating from a least development country (LDC) to a middle-income country. The country is also on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Bangladesh is a gateway to the east for India, gateway to the west for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and gateway to the south for China, Bhutan, and Nepal.
"In the last five years, the ADB's lending volume to Bangladesh has tripled. In 2018, we committed the highest level of support, amounting to over US$ 4.8 billion, to Bangladesh."
"It included eight sovereign projects totalling $2.2 billion in loans and grants, $16.5 million in technical assistance, and $2.6 billion in co-financing."
The ADB supports mainly six sectors in Bangladesh, including energy, transport, water, and other urban infrastructure and services.
Bangladesh is the second largest portfolio of the ADB, comprising 54 projects under implementation with a current portfolio of over $10 billion, he added.
Speaking at the programme, Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister Tajul Islam said implementation timeline and quality control are the key factors in any project.
Ensuring better quality with cost minimisation is the best approach to get the best results.
He also blamed corruption for lack of good governance in some places.
Mr Islam also urged foreign donors, lending agencies and banks to invest more in Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh has a good record of repaying loans as well as facilitating investment. So invest here," he added.
Additional Secretary of the Economic Relations Division under the Ministry of Finance Farida Nasreen also spoke at the programme.
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