7 years ago

Allocation-utilisation mismatch

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Setting a timeline, allocation of funds and fulfilment of financial targets to correspond to the physical targets are key to successful implementation of a development project. The synergy of these elements is particularly crucial when it comes to implementing an infrastructure project. Because in that case it is part of a  mosaic of connectivity architecture of brick, mortar and steel. 
That said, we turn to the  two   front page  reports that  appeared in this news paper on February 11 and 12, titled "Seven years not enough to build 21km road!"and "Bridges Division seeks 29 pc lower funds in Revised Annual Development Programme (RADP)." 
One has  highlighted the spectre of stupendous time and  cost  overruns on a mere 21 km road project in Kishoreganj district. Supposed to have been completed between January 2011 and June 2013, it is in for a revision of time, the very design itself and of course the cost which has already doubled to TK1.82 billion. This also reveals another aspect of the project having not been properly thought through despite its location in haor area with the engineering challenges it posed. Besides, it is said to have been adopted under pressure, possibly without due diligence going into its feasibility study. 
The second report concerns a more serious undertaking comprising Padma Bridge, Dhaka elevated expressway and Karnaphuli  tunnel project. Here the issues are not immediately of  time and cost escalations although invariably that would be the ultimate outcome if a timely brake is not applied on the early signs of lack of commitment or initiative. For, the failure to spend current allocations for the three projects  meant lowering of the requirement of funds by 29 per cent from TK 92.08 billion  originally allocated to the mega projects in the ADP.
This amounts to missing financial targets (one hopes not)  within a time frame which in turn would create a shortfall in meeting the physical targets making implementation complicated,  time consuming and expensive.  If the trend continues, this could also lead to poor quality spending topped up by hurrying pace of work which may compromise project quality.
It is understood that the downward revision is being sought in the  allocation from internal resources. TK 81.84 billion outlay is being slashed to TK 54.19 billion. Where in terms of foreign aid and loans the complaint had been regarding disbursement linked to insistence on conditionality, transparency etc here we have plenty of internal resources that the government is ready to provide and yet the ministries are not prepared to utilise them.
Ministries, divisions and directorates tend to clamour for bigger allocations as a mark of their entitlement each year but when money is provided to them they fail to spend it. Why this should happen more and more is a subject matter for scooping research followed by a pro active intervention in reforming and reequipping implementation machinery in each ministry.  
Also it is high time that the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the planning ministry were empowered to exercise its remit.
It is somewhat inexplicable  that in three prestigious projects  mentioned above there is a virtual lowering of financial  targets which could slow down the process of their completion. The irony lies in the fact that  the rate of  ADP implementation for July to October period of fiscal  2016-17 was  higher at 14 per cent representing TK  5.177 crore    over 11 per cent  for the same period of last fiscal year.
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