The mid-term review of the Sixth Five-Year Plan (SFYP) for 2011-2015 has suggested the government to identify the highest transformational projects and complete those first instead of spreading resources thinly on too many projects.
It cited some examples of transformative projects that need to be prioritised and fully resourced include the Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane project, double tracking of the Dhaka-Chittagong Railway, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, completion of the two Bibiyana gas field based large power plants and the Dhaka metro rail.
The suggestion came as the performance in terms of infrastructural development, especially in the areas of transport including roads, bridges, railways and ports in the Sixth Five-Year Plan fell short of the target.
“The budgetary resources appear to be adequate but implementation needs to be much more efficient and speedy,” said the mid-term review of the Plan.
The General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission conducted the implementation review.
According to the review, the Road Division has 156 projects under implementation which has led to over programming of projects without adequate budgetary allocations for each project.
Sought comments about the mid-term review of the 6th Five-Year Plan, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told UNB that they are successful although not cent percent.
“If the global and local context during the 6th Plan is considered when the world was going through economic recession during the beginning of the Plan, the country was affected to some extent for which we could not reach to our desired place,” he added.
Mustafa Kamal said although the nation could not raise the investment ratio to GDP to its desired around 32 percent while the GDP growth in between 7.5 to 8 percent. “But, I think that achieving consistently 6 percent growth on average is a brilliant success and also a big success.”
Asked about the features of the next 7th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), he said the Plan would highlight basically on two types of infrastructures—physical and non-physical ones. The investment in the physical infrastructures will include airports, river ports and other basic areas.
About the communications sector, he said the government in the next plan would eye the railway sector to turn it into an effective and meaningful way of communications carrying both passengers and goods at an economical way. “Then the cost in transportation of goods and carrying of passengers will reduce…..now the railway is not fully running effectively and it could be improved further.”
With the completion of the Dhaka-Chittagong Dual Gauge line, he said, the transportation of goods would be prioritised alongside smooth movement of passenger and goods-laden trains.
The mid-term implementation review suggested that the budgetary and some of the implementation-related challenges should be overcome through PPPs although there are a number of reasons for the lackluster performance of the PPP initiative, the main constraints are the inadequate institutional capacity and difficulty in the bidding and contracting process.
Quoting the World Economic Forum, the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14, the review said the ranking of Bangladesh was 130 in overall infrastructure score with 2.7 points in fiscal 2010-11 which improved to 110 in fiscal year 2013-14 with overall infrastructure score of 2.8 points.
The review also noted that the future power expansion programme must be based on least-cost expansion path and not just the convenience of the hugely expensive small rental plants.
Even more important, renewed efforts are needed to institute a national coal policy and invest more resources in gas exploration and production.