FY24 budget: Projects to please people in election year 

Budget 2023-24Prothom Alo illustration

In the year of election, the people show much interest in development projects and the government responds positively by passing and implementing various projects to entertain their interests. This time is no exception.

The authorities have already passed the Annual Development Programme (ADP), which is the last one for the current government, with a total of 825 unallocated projects on the bucket list. 

The projects have been divided into three categories: high, medium, and low priorities. 

Buildings, roads, and bridges in remote areas are the majority in the high-priority list, along with some other projects like boosting cattle production and upgrading airports to international standards. A total of Tk 2630 billion has been allocated for 1,309 projects in the ADP.

Furthermore, the authorities have made necessary allocations in the ADP to complete at least seven mega projects, including the metro rail, elevated expressway, and Cox's Bazar rail link. 

State minister for planning Shamsul Alam said the new projects have been undertaken considering issues such as employment, poverty alleviation, and communication. These projects will be implemented on a priority basis, but the building construction projects may be delayed if there is no urgency. 

He added, “We are now focusing on project completion. Several projects will be completed this year and the people will benefit from them.”

When asked whether the projects are being passed in view of the national election, he said the authorities want to pass projects that are public-friendly. However, the social safety scheme is being widened to tackle inflationary pressure.

A spate of less important projects

The ADP contains a list of new, unallocated, and unapproved projects, and the authorities work on the list throughout the year and pass projects as per requirements.

This time, more than half of the unapproved projects have been placed in the high-priority category. Many projects of public complacency and low priority have made their way into the high-priority list, despite the ongoing dollar crisis.

For instance, a Tk 2.6 billion project was undertaken to build the Karmasangsthan Bank building by June 2025, but it is now in the ADP list with high-priority status.

There is a proposed project of Tk 5 billion for the construction of the Shuvopur Bridge on Feni-Chhagalnaiya-Korer Hat road. Additionally, another Tk 5 billion project has been initiated to acquire land for the construction of a bridge over the Meghna-Dhanagoda river on the Matlab North-Gazaria road in Chandpur.

Usually, road and bridge construction projects are passed before elections to appease the local people.

One of the reasons behind cutting the ADP in the current financial year 2022-23 is the low collection of revenue. However, two projects worth Tk 6.5 billion have been initiated to boost cattle production in the latest ADP. These are high-priority projects in the ADP.

Additionally, a project involving Tk 13.27 billion has been included in the ADP with high priority for the development of zoos in Dhaka and Rangpur. As many as 500 such projects have been kept on the high-priority list, most of which are different types of infrastructure construction projects, including roads, buildings, and bridges.

Selim Raihan, the executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), said there is a kind of pressure on the economy. The trend of revenue collection is lower than other times. In such a situation, even if it is an election year, projects should be passed after an adequate level of verification. During elections, there is pressure to pass projects for the construction of roads and buildings.

He added that the government wants to complete these projects or make them visible targeting the election.