Old habits die hard and we still have problems in implementing our Annual Development Programme (ADP). When the ADP is declared at the beginning of the fiscal, the concerned officials seem too lethargic to bother. Then when they finally emerge from this lethargy, most of the year has passed and there is hardly any time to implement the projects of the ADP. Our ADP has expanded considerably in size from what it was a decade ago, but the allocations are still not utilised timely.
It is obvious that slow pace of project implementation at the beginning of the fiscal and a frenzied hurry towards the end can never yield desired results. In the past the slow pace of project implementation was blamed on delayed release of foreign funds, but now most of the funds come from local resources.
It is expected that the government will want to speed up development activities due to the proximity of the elections, but the performance has been dismal. A quarter of the current fiscal has passed, but only 8.25 per cent of the ADP has been implemented in the first three months of July to September, according to a Prothom Alo report. This does not bode well. Many of the projects are still entangled in bureaucratic red tape. There can be debate over whether the project directors or the finance ministry is responsible for these delays, but the fact remains that the targeted beneficiaries of these projects remain deprived.
The ruling party persons are enthusiastic about development projects as these pull in the votes. They do not care whether the projects are suitable for their areas or not, but go ahead lobbying to get the projects approved. Worse still, the projects are hardly ever completely on time.
Finance minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith often expresses annoyance at the delay in project implementation. But, as the Prothom Alo report reveals, this hardly makes a difference to the persons concerned. And the quality of our infrastructure work is questionable, with roads and structures falling into disrepair soon after being constructed. One reason behind this is hurriedly finishing the work. The projects directors and contractors simply focus on finishing the work before 30 June so they can get their payment. They are not bothered at all about the quality of the work. This farce in the name of development cannot continue.
The Prothom Alo report published on Friday pointed out the flurry of activities to get projects passed ahead of the election. ECNEC meetings are held in fast succession. Around 126 projects valued at around Tk 1.25 trillion in the first three months of the current fiscal have been passed. But bureaucratic complications delay release of the funds and slow implementation.
It is likely that a great number of foundation stones for new educational institution buildings will be laid all around the country, but none of these projects will be completely on time. When will this waste of state resources in the name of development end?