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Govt moves to cut ADP delays

Time-bound checklist to be introduced for projects

The government is set to introduce a time-bound checklist for project preparation in a bid to cut habitual delays in the implementation.

It takes more than one year to get the project moving after obtaining approval, and by the time 20 percent of a project’s fund is released, half of the project’s time elapses, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Delays in approving development and technical project proposals are common, which takes a toll on implementation, the Manila-based multilateral lender found.

To arrest this practice, a high-powered committee led by the cabinet secretary has been formed to prepare a checklist, said an official of the Economic Relations Division.

The draft guideline stipulated a maximum of Tk 5 crore to run a project’s preparatory work.

Besides, for land acquisition an amount will be allocated on the basis of the actual value of the land.

If the amount is below Tk 50 crore the ministry can allocate it, but if it is above the sum, the prime minister’s approval will be required.

The main objective of the checklist is to give the authority a framework to review the progress of work and a definitive timeline for the project’s completion.

For government-funded projects the preparatory work would involve 20 steps.

The foreign-aided projects’ checklist would have 22 points. Concept paper of the project, estimate of primary expenditure and administrative recommendation from the ministry must be completed within a month.

In the next five months 11 steps will have to be taken, including: financial analysis of the project, selection of land for acquisition and its cost.

After that, two months will be afforded to prepare the draft project document and take possession of the land.

Approval for the project from the Ecnec and drafting of the implementation team must be done in the subsequent month.

The checklist will be introduced after the cabinet committee on economic affairs approves it, said the ERD official.

An ADB portfolio review mission recently analysed 58 projects funded by the bank, and showed how slow disbursement affects project implementation.

For example, the $400 million Sustainable Power Sector Development Project, approved in June 2007, was scheduled to be completed by 2013.

But almost 45 percent of the project time had elapsed before 20 percent of the fund was disbursed, according to ADB data.

Assessing ongoing projects, the ADB said it requires about 13 months on average for approving a loan and making the first disbursement in a project. And it takes 38.5 months for making 20 percent disbursement.

Apart from procedural constraints, there is a capacity problem in the planning cell of executive agencies and line ministries. The planning commission takes considerably long time to review project proposals, the Manila-based multilateral lender added.

Source: Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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