The government appears serious to make visible progress in at least five mega projects to draw the attention of voters ahead of the national election, after failing to accelerate the 10 fast-track projects in the last couple of years.
The six fast-track projects including the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Padma Bridge Rail Link, Metro Rail, Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Gundum Rail Link, Matarbari Coal-fired Power Plant and Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project are getting a total of Tk30,614cr in the upcoming fiscal year aiming to move a quick progress.
But the scenario in the last two years is not satisfactory because most of the project authorities have not utilised the funds that were allocated to them.
The government had allocated Tk18,727.36cr (Tk15,986cr in revised) for the outgoing 2016-17FY budget which was nearly double of the previous budget. But in the end the government could spend only Tk4,547cr until February.
Economist Ahsan H monsur told the Dhaka Tribune: “Bangladesh is not ready yet to implement such mega projects because of lack of efficiency of the bureaucracy.
“Secondly, the selection of the right construction firms is important for implementing a project properly,” said Mansur, the executive director of Policy Research Institute.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith said in his budget speech on Thursday: “We have placed special emphasis on growth enhancing mega projects in making allocations for Annual Development Programme of the next fiscal year.
“Around 31.7% of the total budget allocation has been proposed for the physical infrastructure sector aiming to strengthen the economy.”
The government’s total annual development budget is Tk1,53,331cr for the upcoming 2017-18 fiscal year.
The Padma Bridge is one of the top priority projects that the government wants to complete by December 2018 with a total cost of Tk28,793cr.
The government has proposed to allocate Tk5,524cr for the next fiscal year. However, in the current FY the original allocation was Tk6,026cr but it is being revised down to TK4,674cr. Only Tk1,798cr was spent in eight months.
The finance minister said: “As of March 2017, 41% physical progress has been achieved in the construction of the long-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge. The Bridges Division firmly believes that construction of the bridge will be completed by 2018.”
Padma Bridge Rail Link
The government plans to connect the Padma Bridge with Faridpur through Zajira point during Padma Bridge launch in December 2018 and connect with Dhaka by 2022.
The government has proposed to allocate Tk7,609cr for the next coming fiscal year. However in the current FY the original allocation was Tk4,102cr but it is being brought up in the revised budget to Tk4,913cr. Until February of current FY only Tk566cr could be spent.
The government wants to partially open Metro Rail by December 2019 which would give some political advantage during the next polls, however it is scheduled to be opened by 2024.
The government has proposed to allocate Tk3,426cr for the next fiscal year. However, in the current FY the allocation was Tk2,227cr which is being revised down to Tk1,182cr. Only Tk165cr could be spent until February.
Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar-Gundum Rail Link
The government wants to begin construction work of Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar rail link within this year. The project was approved in 2010 and scheduled to be completed by 2022.
The government has proposed to allocate Tk1,561cr for the next fiscal year. The primary allocation in the outgoing fiscal year was Tk613.75cr which was revised to Tk1,031cr and already (February) spent Tk822cr.
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant
The Rooppur Power Nuclear Plant project is scheduled to completed by 2022. The project has two phases - first part (preparatory work) is almost complete with a cost of Tk5,087cr. But the main part of the project will start soon with a cost of Tk1,18,179cr.
The government has proposed to allocate Tk10,274cr for the next fiscal year, which is the highest amount for a single project.