ECNEC approves Tk 8b ‘Amar Gram-Amar Shohor: Pilot Village Development’ project

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chairs the 1st meeting of the ECNEC in this fiscal year (FY24) at the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area, Dhaka, on 18 July, 2023

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved a Tk 8 billion ‘Amar Gram-Amar Shohor: Pilot Village Development’ project in a bid to extend modern civic facilities to the villages.

The approval came from the 1st meeting of the ECNEC in this fiscal year (FY24) held with its chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

Ministers, state ministers attended the meeting while planning commission members and secretaries concerned were present.

Briefing newspersons after the meeting, planning minister MA Mannan said that a total of 15 projects were approved in the day’s meeting involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 180.10 billion.

“Of the total project cost, Tk 121.92 billion will come from the government of Bangladesh portion, over Tk 5.84 billion from the concerned organisation’s own fund while the rest of Tk 52.33 billion as project assistance.”

Of the approved 15 projects, 14 are new while another one is a revised project, he added.

The planning minister further said that the local government engineering department (LGED) and the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) will jointly implement the Pilot Village Development project at 15 selected villages of the country by June 2026.

The project aims to extend modern civic facilities to the villages while all the villages of the country would be gradually brought under the modern civic facilities.

The major project operations include upazila, union and rural roads development, construction of growth centres, rural market development and agri products collection centres, ensuring water supply, sanitation and integrated waste management plant, construction of upazila multipurpose sports and cultural centres, development of schools playing grounds, development of rural accommodation, excavation of canals and ponds, erection of street lamps, supplying of Bondhu Chula and Biogas plants, social afforestation and village branding.

The other projects approved in the meeting are -- Barapukuria-Bogura-Kaliakoir 400KV Line Project, 2nd revised with an additional cost of Tk 57.53 billion, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Film City, 2nd phase with about Tk 3.8 billion, Establishment of Sylhet Medical University (SMU) with Tk 20.36 billion, Ensuring flow of river during dry season, development of river ways and flood management to restore the flow of rivers of Jinai, Ghaghot, Bongshi and Nagda with Tk 41.68 billion, construction of Ulipur (helipad circle)-Chilmari (Gunaigach) link road with Tk 682.5 million, enhancing the qualitative standard of design and construction for ensuring resiliency of private buildings with Tk 705.8 million, integrated and sustainable poura water supply and sanitation at Chattogram Hill Tracts at a cost of Tk 11.96 billion.

The other projects approved in the meeting are - construction of record building for Bangladesh Supreme Court with Tk 2.79 billion, Barishal, Bhola, Jhalkati and Pirojpur district irrigation development project with nearly Tk 3.49 billion, supplying Padma river water to Barind area through double lifting method and extension of irrigation with Tk 5.48 billion, establishment and development of Tissue Culture Laboratory Cum Horticulture Centre with nearly Tk 3.95 billion, construction of Urirchar-Noakhali Cross Dam for land reclamation with about Tk 5.89 billion, permanent rehabilitation and preservation of slopes at the affected embankment of polder number 72 under Sandwip upazila in Chattogram district with Tk 5.62 billion, constructing newer food warehouses and ancillary facilities at various strategic locations of the country with Tk 8.14 billion.

Besides, the meeting also approved the extension of timeframe without raising cost for two projects namely construction of Upazila Muktijoddha Complex Bhaban, 1st revised and constructing loop road along the outer wall of Asian University for Women and construction of link road from Dhaka Trunk Road to Bayezid Bostami Road, 2nd revised.

PM for revising rate schedules

At the ECNEC meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the authorities concerned for revising the rate schedules of different works of development projects in line with the changing prices of construction materials.

The prime minister also directed the authorities concerned to consider the latest exchange rate of US dollars before preparing the drafts of the development projects as the exchange rate of US dollars often influence the overall expenditure of the projects.

Planning minister MA Mannan said that the prime minister in the meeting noted that the prices of construction materials like iron, cement, stones and bricks are witnessing an uptrend in the market, for which the prices of such items often go up during the implementation period compared to the exact time of framing the rate schedule of development projects.

Acknowledging the facts, Mannan said that the prime minister had noted that this could happen in the growing global economy.

He said that Sheikh Hasina, in this regard, asked the authorities concerned, including the Ministry of Finance, to revise the rate schedules as per the necessity and changing of prices of construction materials.

Noting that the exchange rate of US dollars also influences the overall expenditure of the development schemes, the prime minister also suggested accommodating the latest exchange rate before finalising the overall expenditure or financial estimation of the projects.

“The prime minister has clearly directed the Ministry of Finance and other concerned agencies to address these issues,” added Mannan.

The planning minister said that the prime minister has directed the Ministry of Law to take necessary steps for disposing of tax related pending cases with the Supreme Court and thus realising taxes to enrich the state coffer.

Referring to a project for constructing Urirchar-Noakhali Cross Dam, Mannan said that the prime minister strongly asked the Ministry of Water Resources to remain cautious while dealing with the project since coastal areas are involved in it.

She cautioned that the adjacent islands, areas and channels should not be disturbed during the implementation of this project.

Directing the authorities concerned to take necessary steps for preserving the seasonal vegetables and fruits, the prime minister noted that countries like Thailand, Vietnam have become successful in the business and export of fruits after preserving and bottling those. Such process can also be followed in Bangladesh, she added.

In order to avoid duplication of projects in the same area, the prime minister asked the authorities concerned to become more cautious and thus work in an integrated manner. “If there is overlapping, then there can be misuse of funds,” Mannan said quoting the prime minister as saying.

Referring to the ‘Amar Gram-Amar Shohor’ project, Mannan said Sheikh Hasina said that this is a pilot project and its experiments could be useful in the future.

But, she said no further projects would be taken in future under the same title while all concerned agencies should work in an integrated manner.

The planning minister said that in the ECNEC meeting, the prime minister was apprised of the findings of two BBS surveys on literacy assessment and ICT use and thus expressed her satisfaction over the results.

Planning division secretary Satyajit Karmakar said that the ‘Amar Gram Amar Shohor’ project has been taken on a pilot basis based on the findings of a study.