The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved eight projects with an outlay of Tk 101.02 billion, including Tk 30.20 billion for agricultural mechanisation aiming to reduce agricultural production costs in the country.
The approval came from the second ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year, held with ECNEC chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, reports news agency UNB.
The prime minister and planning minister MA Mannan joined the meeting from the prime minister’s official Ganabhaban residence through a videoconference, while other ECNEC members were connected from NEC Bhaban.
While endorsing the project, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to examine the quality of the locally produced agricultural machines saying that the government will promote local ones if these are of good quality
He said two each of the projects are of local government division, agriculture ministry and land ministry, one each of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs ministry and the power division.
Talking about the agricultural mechanisation project, the planning minister said the government will provide agricultural machinery to farmers at 70 per cent and 50 per cent subsidised prices in haor and coastal areas respectively.
While endorsing the project, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to examine the quality of the locally produced agricultural machines saying that the government will promote local ones if these are of good quality, Mannan said.
The main activities of the project include procurement and distribution of 51,300 machines (combined harvester, rice transplanter, power thresher dryer, power weeder, power sprayer, potato digger, maize sheller) as well as providing trainings to rural mechanics, agriculture officers, farmers and entrepreneurs.
The major objectives of the project include preventing 10-15 per cent of crop from wastage, and saving time and money in cultivation by enhancing the supply and use of modern agricultural machines; reducing agricultural production costs and boosting productivity and thus alleviating poverty.
ECNEC also approved another project titled ‘Increasing Production of Oil-Bearing Crops Project’ involving Tk 2.78 billion under the agriculture ministry aiming to meet the local demand of edible oil and reduce the import costs in this regard.
The project’s main operations include development of the 182.78-km road network for enhancing the security of vehicular movement and easing traffic congestion, construction of 233.97-km drain and development of 28.51-km canal, installation of LED lights, acquiring 69.48-acre land in the expanded city area.
The DNCC will implement the project by December 2023 and the entire project cost will be borne by the state exchequer, said the minister.
During the approval of the project, the prime minister asked local government bodies to boost their revenues to be self-reliant for implementing development activities with own cost, said Mannan.
Sheikh Hasina asked the authorities concerned to be careful so that many bridges are not constructed indiscriminately.
“There are huge bridges over rivers in this country. Everyone thinks there should be a bridge in front of his house. It’s not possible financially… it’ll also cause river drying,” she added.
The prime minister also directed the authorities concerned for taking austerity measures to reduce the project costs avoiding unimportant expenditures.
The ECNEC meeting also cleared the revision of another DNCC project titled ‘Construction of Drainage and Footpaths including Development of Different Damaged Road Infrastructures of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) (2nd revised) Project’ at an additional cost of Tk 558.9 million (original cost Tk 10.25 billion, now raised to Tk 10.81 billion).
The two projects of the land ministry are ‘Enhancing Digital Survey Capacity of Land Record and Survey Department for Conducting Land Survey through Digital System Project’ involving Tk 12.12 billion and Land Management Automation Project spending Tk 11.97 billion.
During the approval of the land projects, the prime minister directed the land minister for conducting land record and survey properly when it comes to the lands small ethnic groups living in the plain land.
The remaining two projects cleared at the meeting are Power Supply through Installation of Solar Panels in the remote CHT areas (Phase-I) Project with Tk 2.17 billion and Power Distribution System Development, Rangpur Zone (1st revised) Project with an outlay of Tk 949.2 million.
The minister said the implementation rate of Annual Development Programmes was 80 per cent in the last fiscal year, which was 94 per cent in 2018-19 fiscal year.