Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the authorities concerned to identify reasons for delays and repeated revisions in the implementation of various projects.
"People do not take this positively," she said at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday, while approving the revised project proposal for excavating a canal from Bahaddarhat Baripara to the River Karnaphuli in Chattogram.
Planning Minister MA Mannan briefed journalists about the outcome of the Ecnec meeting.
At the press briefing, State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam said the project has been in the works for nearly 10 years. This time the second amendment proposal of the project has been approved. The prime minister said this project should not be amended anymore.
The implementation of the project started in 2014 to remove waterlogging in Chattogram. At that time the cost of the project was Tk326.85 crore. After the second amendment, the cost of the project increased to Tk1,362.62 crore. According to the amendment proposal, the project will be completed by June 2024.
Including this project, five out of 11 projects approved in Tuesday's Ecnec meeting are revised projects.
MA Mannan said the project could not be completed on time due to weaknesses in implementation. In some cases, negligence or failure on the part of project officials, and corruption at the individual level, are also responsible.
There are also several other reasons why projects have to be revised, said the planning minister. He said the cost of a project has to be updated a lot of the time. It's hard to control.
"Again, if the price of a product goes up all over the world, it has an effect on our project. If the price of steel rod increases, then the cost of the project goes up as well, and the Russia-Ukraine war has pushed up commodity prices worldwide too," he said.
He noted that the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed implementation of projects as well.
The planning minister said land acquisition has become a pain for development projects. Land acquisition cannot be done due to legal complications though work is being done to solve all these problems.
"The Planning Commission wants the project to be implemented in time. When the project is not implemented timely, the cost goes up. Work is underway so that projects do not come back for revision," he added.
Mannan said there are many good examples of implementing projects in time, like the Meghna-Gumti bridge construction project.
The revised projects approved at the Ecnec meeting on Tuesday include the construction of a broad gauge rail line between Chilahati and the Chilahati border for connectivity with India, construction and development of the Nabinagar-Shibpur-Radhika regional highway, and the upgrading of district highways to proper standard and width (Cumilla Zone), and border roads (Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban Hill Districts – Phase-I).
The prime minister suggested taking steps to set up industries for processing cheese, ghee, and powdered milk, besides increasing milk production. She also asked the government to consider setting up a powdered milk processing industry with private entrepreneurs.
Dr Shamsul Alam said the premier said this while approving the project, "Expansion of Dairy Cooperative Activities in Dairy Deficit Upazilas".
MA Mannan said the prime minister has asked all city corporations, including Chattogram, Mymensingh, and Sylhet, to be financially self-sufficient. She has directed the authorities to set up central waste treatment plants to prevent river pollution.
"The prime minister directed the Rivers Protection Commission to take effective steps to ensure that all rivers including Kaliganga and Buriganga are free from pollution," Mannan said.
The directive was issued during the approval of the project "Conservation of river banks to protect important areas of Nawabganj in Dhaka district and Saturia, Ghior, Sadar and Singair upazilas of Manikganj district, from erosion of the Kaliganga River".
The planning minister said the government has decided not to build any surface roads in haors from now on and expressways will be built instead.
At the press conference, the planning minister presented information on implementation of the revised Annual Development Program (ADP) for nine months of the fiscal year, from July to March.
According to the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, the revised ADP implementation rate as of March is 45.56%. It was 41.92% during the same period in the last financial year.
The minister said, due to good management and hard work, the implementation rate of the revised ADP has increased in the current financial year as compared to the previous financial year.