Stressing again on timely and proper implementation of development projects including foreign aided projects, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asserted that implementation of the development pro-jects could not be delayed by any means while those should be implemented properly in due time.
To ensure proper implementation of the foreign aided projects, the premier also formed a committee, headed by her Principal Secretary, to review the progress of the foreign aided development projects in every two months and thus identify and address the barriers and obstacles of such projects towards ensur-ing smooth implementation and timely disbursement of foreign funds.
The Prime Minister gave the directive while chairing the 3rd meeting of the Bangladesh Planning Com-mission after a gap of nine years held at the NEC conference room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area. The Premier presided over the meeting as its chairperson.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Division Senior Secretary Satyajit Karmakar said that Sheikh Hasina has directed the authorities concerned to properly spend the fund of the aided projects to ensure their smooth disbursement.
“We won’t become dependent on others. We shall focus on properly utilizing the amount coming from the development partners against projects either in the form of loans or grants,” Satyajit said quoting the premier as saying.
He informed that the committee, headed by the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, would meet at least every two months and thus review the progress of the foreign funded projects, identify the prob-lems and barriers and thus address those at both the government end and the development partners’ end.
Planning Minister Major General (retd) Abdus Salam said that the meeting discussed about forming a project evaluation or scrutiny committee comprising all the members of the Planning Commission in-stead of the lone existing Planning Commission member from the Programming Division.
The Prime Minister was apprised that such practice would expedite the process of project selection and scrutiny.
Planning Division senior secretary said that the Prime Minister suggested for not taking less important projects, rather taking projects with higher priority and importance as well as those projects which would ensure more returns.
Highlighting some of the directives from the premier in the meeting, the Planning Minister said that the premier put emphasis on conducting properly the feasibility study before undertaking a project. Other-wise, the project will be stalled while there will be cost and time overrun.
Salam said the meeting also discussed about forming an expertise panel or pool comprising project direc-tors. He said that the respective sectors require project directors having expertise and for this, on the job training would be provided to them. Besides, it was also discussed that deserving project directors having expertise in concerned sectors could be recalled if necessary even after their retirements.
He said during the nearly three-hour long meeting, they discussed about taking more government-funded projects as those experience less complexities.
On the other hand, Salam said the Prime Minister gave directives for properly implementing the foreign funded projects as per the concerned agreements.
Replying to a question, Satyajit said the Bangladesh Planning Commission has been restructured and it would provide overall guidance on the economic policies and strategies apart from the regular operations of the NEC and ECNEC.
He told another questioner that the meeting discussed about the overall public investment scenario of the government as it has expedited the growth.
The Planning Division senior secretary informed that the public investment ratio to GDP stood at 7.6 percent in FY23 which was 5.5 percent in 2011.
He said the government has increased such public investment gradually adding that the Prime Minister has asked all concerned to increase the trend of public investment after taking into cognizance the global context and the country’s macroeconomic stability.
When asked whether there is any chance to stop funding of the aided projects by any development part-ner, the Planning Minister ruled out the possibility saying, “If anyone does such thing, then we won’t sit idle. An elected government is now in place in the country and no one would be able to make any influ-ence or over influence on us. The development partners aren’t giving us loans without any interest, rather they will get interests alongside the principal amount. Both the development partners and the govern-ment want to implement the projects in a proper way.”
Salam said that the meeting also discussed whether the development projects are aligned with the 8th Five Year Plan. Besides, work is underway to frame the 9th Five Year Plan, he added.
The Planning Minister said the Prime Minister at the outset of the meeting highlighted her relentless ef-forts to materialize the ideals of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He said the premier in the meeting mentioned that the last general election was held in a free and fair manner despite the adversities in the initial stage.