ADP implementation patterns over the years in our country have had almost similar contours. Resolute words to hit the ground running without a matching steady start; gathering pace towards end of first quarter and, a momentum built into the second and third quarters. Then gaps between the physical and financial targets widen followed by hectic Turkish dance to bridge them at the fag-end of the outgoing fiscal!
Perfect sequences of a developmental tragicomedy enacted year-on-year basis, an anachronism especially when the GDP growth rate has been consistently rising! Do we still have to carry the baggage of being a miracle?
Take for instance the ADP performance during all but the out-going 2017-18 fiscal. Ministries and divisions faced the daunting task of spending about one-third of the development budget in June alone! According to the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED), in the last 11 months the government spent TK 98,978 crore against the revised full-year allocation of TK157,594 crore for the ADP. What this means is, as against monthly average expenditure of TK 8,998, they have to now spend (albeit theoretically!) TK 58,616 crore in one fleeting month of June.
A planning ministry official observes that the task of literally moving a boulder up the steep mountain feels somewhat easier. He highlights that the physical work of many projects is going on, 'but payments are made through cheques in the last month of the fiscal year. In other words, the spending rate will go up on final count; the question is how up?
It fosters all kinds of arguments that the load pressure on the ministries and divisions in the second half, actually the last quarter of the fiscal causes compromise on quality of projects, let alone inducing cost and time over-runs on composite projects. This actually explains the increasing numbers of carry-over projects and jettisoning some of them almost every year.
Against this backdrop, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal cited a raft of initiatives taken by the government .It has formed a task force for the fast-track projects; a special committee for the foreign-aided projects; and ensured the stay of project directors(PDs) on project sites and regular disbursement of funds.
But what the list of steps misses out on is the pivot of the implementation machinery viz. the pool of the PDs which the prime minister had directed as far back as 2015 to be created.
The experts laid emphasis on the creation of a specialised team or cadre for project management and their time-bound quality implementation.To this end, the government must eschew the practice of appointing the PDs from general cadre. There is no second opinion on the issue of inefficiency and inexperience of the PDs contributing to poor implementation undercutting vital development agendas.
Particularly in handling mega projects which are to be seen aplenty, there is a severe dearth of management efficiency and skill, to say nothing about professional commitment.
Finally, we should explore and try to plug into the asset of advanced human resource that the intellectual cream of Bengali Diaspora represents and services overseas markets demand. Properly incentivised, they can come over for a specified time period for the honour of serving their homeland.
Generally, we need to adopt a policy of rewarding good work and punishing bad, unprofessional performance .
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