6 years ago

Accountability begins at home

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There is a skewed belief that multinational companies do well because they empower their employees, set realistic objectives against which employee performance is evaluated and that they manage their budgets well. These are no magic skill sets conjured up with the wave of a wand but well thought through and debated. The moneys employees play about with are shareholder funds and are meant to be handled as if they were their own. This is where governance works or fails. From that score, the government would get less than satisfactory grading for having spent only 22 per cent of foreign funds earmarked for development in the first six months of the financial year. The mid-year review has recommended cutting a whopping Tk 70 billion from the original development budget outlay of Tk 400 billion. The Finance Minister has justified the large budgets and the Planning Minister has patted himself on the back by saying utilisation efficiency has increased. Obviously, that is not so.
This comes after implementing ministries downsized their fund requirements, below that of their forecasts. According to reports, ministries were finding it difficult to follow all the accountability checks demanded by the donors. They were more comfortable seeking more domestic allocations instead where the accountability factor is less stringent. Two of the mega infrastructure projects have already bloated well beyond the margin of error both in terms of cost and completion time. Of concern is that only a short while back, the local component of funds for projects was downscaled, with a clear indication that timelines might not be met. This insides the dream Padma Bridge project, the one that is crucial from a political perspective to be completed within the tenure of this government. This too has been financed through domestic resources and while downscaled fund requirements are of concern, a prudence in spend can only be welcomed. The government's Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation wing comes in to focus as the body with answers. 
Last year, the unholy concept of spending Annual Development Programme (ADP) funds in the last two months of the fiscal year appeared more gross than before. The inevitable practice of the same roads being dug up for repairs, finished and then dug up again continues merrily, throwing up the question of whether these are avoidable expenses. In the meantime, someone somewhere really has to be taken to task why the 4.0 per cent downsizing in foreign funded development projects should be happening, that too with only half of the fiscal having gone. Even Asian Development Bank (ADB) fund releases are woefully puny. Eighty 10 million (1.0 crore) dollars out of some 6.80 billion (680 crore) makes just under 7.0 per cent disbursement and is anything but a tick in the box for efficiency of utilisation. These allocations are negotiated fiercely. Leaving them unutilised is almost criminal. But under the present day criteria of justifying and monitoring spending efficiency and skills have to be upped. Transnationals train their people well. It wouldn't hurt to use their skills at national level. If anything it brings private and public sector closer-and that isn't a bad thing.
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