The fall in our forex reserves and the difference of Tk10-11 between interbank and kerb market dollar exchange rates can fuel the hundi system, disrupting remittance inflows through formal channels. For this reason, the government has postponed the implementation of some less important development projects, which is good.
We will be able to resume implementation of the projects once the ongoing dollar crisis is mitigated. At this moment, the dollar issue should get priority.
We have taken up many projects, which are not important, without proper evaluation. The projects will ultimately increase our debt burden in the future. We will see the real crisis when the grace periods of the loans taken for the projects are completed.
The government has to make much more budgetary allocation to repay the loans, including their principals. Apart from foreign loans, we have a good amount of domestic loans.
The government will need to increase allocation for repayment of the loans – both domestic and foreign ones – to Tk1 lakh crore within two or three years from the current Tk68,000 crore. For the higher budgetary allocation in the sector, it will then have to struggle to allocate for others.
So, we must be more careful in taking up new development projects so that we can prevent the feared debt-burden situation.
Making delays in project implementation has now turned into our tradition. Almost all the projects are being delayed, which is increasing project costs manifold. The costs of many projects have even surpassed those of similar projects in other countries.
Besides, designing projects at high costs is our old problem. Now the project delays add to the higher costs. For example, the cost of the Dhaka-Chattogram four-lane project has reached nearly four-fold what had initially been estimated. The cost of the Padma Bridge has reached Tk30,000 crore, which was supposed to be two-thirds of it.
We must be in a state of alert in this regard.
Many projects, such as the Payra seaport, are taken up without long-term plans. If a proper evaluation were made, we would not need to waste money. It is heard that more such projects are being undertaken, which will fall flat.
Moreover, the projects will increase our debt burden. International airports in Shariatpur and Noakhali are cases in point. If we do not become aware of the adverse impacts of the projects, our crisis will increase further in the future.