According to a Prothom Alo report, 17 ministries could not spend one per cent of the allocation from the budget for the 2022-23 in July-August, with foreign, youth and sports, and home ministry’s Public Security Division spending nothing at all. Some Tk 18.78 billion was allocated for 30 projects of these ministries and departments.
These were revealed by the latest data of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the planning ministry. So, there is no opportunity to term these as the propaganda of the oppositions or the stories made up by the media. Why do the ministries remain asleep since the beginning of the year?
Budget is not only an account of income and expenditure but also a reflection of political and economic philosophy of the government. No matter how much enmity exists among incumbent and past ruling parties, there seems little difference among them regarding economic policy and plan. Former caretaker government advisor and economist and Akbar Ali Khan warned about mission and vision of the budget and that is not a good news for the budget formulators at all. He writes in his book ‘Budget in Bangladesh: Economy and Politics’, “Politicians are more interested in increasing expenditure; the godfathers of the politicians can be made happier as much as expenditure increases. Opportunity will be created for politicians to increase the amount of unearned revenue or bribe as much as expenditure of the government will increase. On the other hand, economists are worried over both income and expenditure. Though budget is a political decision, it will not be right to leave the budget at the hand of the politicians only.”
Now we see it is not safe to leave the budget at the hand of the bureaucrats only. We know implantation of development project see slow progress at the beginning of fiscal year, but what more logic could there be for spending less than 1 per cent or nothing at all for the first two months of the fiscal? The explanation that state minister for planning Shamsul Alam has given to Prothom was not seemed logical. He said the government is prioritising such projects that will increase productivity and support employment. Therefore, question arises that are all the projects undertaken by industries, water recourses, and science and technology ministries unproductive. The government has divided development projects in three categories – A, B and C, keeping the global crisis in mind. Not everything of these ministries or departments that spent less than 1 per cent or nothing at all in last two months are unproductive or unemployment-friendly.
The name of the development projects of ministries and divisions that have come up in the evaluation done by the implementation monitoring and evaluation division of the planning ministry need to be revealed to the public eyes. Then it would be evident that which sort of projects they had undertaken. It’s not like the ministries and divisions were singled out and given B or C category projects.
Rather than trying to safeguard those who are responsible for the delays in these projects, steps need to be taken against them. Otherwise, if these projects are completed in haste at the end of the fiscal year, not only will national resources be wasted, the people for which these projects were meant for won’t get any benefits.