Ecnec approves 10 projects

Wed Dec 8, 2021 12:00 AM Last update on: Wed Dec 8, 2021 02:36 AM

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved 10 development projects, half of which were revisions.

The cost and deadline of some of them have been extended twice or thrice despite repeated directives from government high ups for not allowing unusual delays.

Planning Minister MA Mannan at a press briefing following the Ecnec meeting opined that repeated revision of projects has become a national problem.

Five of the project proposals were for time and cost revisions. One was taken up in 2015 involving Tk 87.67 crore to establish two regional training centres of Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan in Chattogram and Rajshahi, to be implemented by 2017.

The project’s third revision proposal has now been approved, raising the cost to Tk 162.46 crore while the deadline till June 2023.

Another small project involving Tk 45.81 crore on the development of ICT infrastructure, human resources and technology skills of Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat was first approved in July 2017 for completion by June 2020.

The first revision pushed the deadline to June 2021 and the second raised the cost to Tk 56.76 crore.

Yesterday a third revision was approved, increasing the cost to Tk 70.60 crore and pushing the deadline to June 2023.

A much-talked-about project on construction of 560 model mosques alongside Islamic cultural centres at district and upazila levels had a second revision approved yesterday with the time extended by three years.

The Ecnec on April 25, 2017 approved the project at an initial estimated cost of Tk 9,062.41 crore for implementation by December 2019.

The project, being implemented by Bangladesh Islamic Foundation, will now cost Tk 9,435 crore and end in June 2024.

Two other projects, including one on development of navigability of river route from the Mongla port to a nuclear power plant and the other on rural infrastructural development of greater Noakhali district got approval of their first revision.

The cost of the navigability development project has been increased to Tk 1,290 crore from its original estimate of Tk 956 crore while that of the rural infrastructural development project to Tk 1,465 crore from Tk 1,152 crore.

According to planning commission documents presented yesterday, the changes were for increase in construction costs due to changes in rate schedules, delays in land acquisition, inclusion of new components and for ensuring proper completion.

Asked about the repeated revisions, Planning Minister MA Mannan, at a press briefing afterwards, said it was a recurring problem and people as well as the government were concerned about it.

He, however, said project implementing delays also occur in developed countries like Switzerland and England.

“There are some realistic problems in implementing projects, such as Covid, nobody knew it will happen,” said the minister.

Rate schedules also change in some cases. Projects are taken based on a particular rate schedule but for delays in starting the works, prices of construction materials increase due to devaluation of the taka, Mannan said.

He went on saying that in some cases land acquisition was another major problem and many people were unwilling to give up their land due to a scarcity of it.

The minister said they were trying hard to reduce the delays.

State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the planning commission to explain the reasons behind the revisions.

She also emphasised on getting the youth engaged in Islamic cultures through the mosque project to keep them from falling victim to extremism, Alam informed.

On the Noakhali rural infrastructural project, she directed the secretary to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives to monitor proper use of allocated funds and to ensure quality of work.

Among the five new projects, the Ecnec approved one on the establishment of burn and plastic surgery units at five medical college hospitals in Sylhet, Barishal, Rangpur, Rajshahi and Faridpur for Tk 456.09 crore and for completion by June 2024.

Another was on “Enhancing Digital Government and Economy”, to be implemented by the Information and Communication Technology Division for Tk 2541.65 crore between January 2022 and December 2026.

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