Why is public interest hostage to the interest of influentials?

Prothom Alo illustration

Influential ministers, MPs and bureaucrats have been active in approving projects in their respective areas, which has given rise to various questions. A total of 50 projects are being placed at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) today, Tuesday. There is no precedent of placing so many projects at the ECNEC meeting. Besides, over 40 projects are at the final stage.

Amid the economic crisis, the government has no available funds for allocation. What are the reasons rather than getting extra facilities behind the approvals of so many projects at this time? According to the Prothom Alo report, today's ECNEC meeting may be the last one during the present government. As a result, the influencers are seeing an opportunity to get approval of the projects in their localities.

Earlier, under the pressure of ministers, MPs and bureaucrats, various types of projects have been approved. Most of the projects are on roads and bridges. Those who are in the government get these projects approved to please the government ahead of the election.

Of the projects to be placed at the today's ECNEC meeting, one is the construction of a bridge at the locality of state minister for planning Shamsul Alam A total of Tk 41.74 billion will be spent to construct a hanging bridge over the Meghna-Dhonagoda river in Chandpur. justification of constructing this bridge is questionable.

The village home of cabinet secretary Mahbub Hossain is in Muladi of Barishal. There is a project of constructing a bridge over Arial Kha river at the cost of Tk 15 billion.

Generally the construction begins before the approval of the duration of the project. But this project will be passed in advance, the work will begin later. Besides, proposals to extend duration and increase cost of projects for constructing roads and culverts in the localities of MPs may be placed at the meeting. Some projects for constructing roads will also be placed.

Former secretary and construction expert Muhammad Fouzul Kabir Khan said this is the ahead of the election. Ministers and MPs are trying to get projects approved in their localities to get additional facilities during the election.

When austerity measures are being talked about amid the economic crisis and advice is being given to prioritise important projects, why are influential people being given projects as a gift? Although it is known that projects cannot be started, the influential people are including projects of their liking in the Annual Development Programme (ADP). How is it ethically right to use the public money in the interest of a few people?

There is no precedent of any project in Bangladesh being implemented in time after its approval. The time and the budget of the project increase simultaneously. There are instances where important projects are not implemented while unimportant projects are undertaken.

This crisis exists as there is no accountability in spending public money. What is the alternative to political will to come out of this crisis?
We think there is no reason to approve so many projects pleasing people at the ECNEC meeting at the end of its tenure. Projects should be taken up in public interests, not for any individuals.