Vol. 5 Num 832 Thu. September 28, 2006  
Front Page

Govt hurries to okay 'projects for voters'
Tk 8,746cr development projects approved in 1 hour

The Executive Committee on National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved 18 development projects worth Tk 8,746 crore as the government is in a mad rush to please voters at the fag end of its tenure.

Sources said there were some 15 projects on the agenda of the Ecnec meeting until Tuesday. But in the face of tremendous pressure from different ministries, a total of 19 projects were placed in the meeting and 18 got approval within one hour.

Earlier on September 14, another Ecnec meeting approved 16 projects worth Tk 2,745 crore. The agenda of the meeting had 14 projects but finally 21 projects were placed in the meeting.

With yesterday's approval, projects totalling around Tk 17,000 crore got government approval within only three months (July-September) of the current financial year.

Of the 18 projects approved yesterday, six were revised projects while 12 others were new ones.

Usually, the finance minister chairs the meeting convened for revised projects and the prime minister chairs those for new ones. But Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman chaired yesterday's Ecnec meeting as the PM was busy and approved the projects with special permission.

Around 100 more projects are in the pipeline and will be place in the next two or three meetings of the Ecnec.

A new financial year normally starts with a very slow pace but gains momentum at the end as different ministries hurry to get Ecnec approval for development projects.

However, although the current fiscal year is yet in the beginning, the government is hurrying for the approval of different development projects as its tenure is nearing end.

While in power last time, the Awami League government also did the same thing and got Ecnec approval for at least 20 projects even two days before handing over power to the caretaker government.

The present government is scheduled to hand over power on October 28.

Of the 18 projects approved yesterday, eight will be fully financed with the government's own resources while 10 others will be implemented with partial financial assistance of Tk 5,846 crore from the Asian Development Bank, UNDP, Opec Fund, and DFID.

Three projects--two for power generation and one for transmission line--were approved yesterday.

Of them, construction of Sirajganj 150MW Gas Turbine Power Plant will be implemented at a cost of Tk 688 crore. Donors will provide Tk 433 crore of the cost. The construction of Khulna 150MW Peaking Power Plant will be implemented at a cost of Tk 805 crore, of which donors will share Tk 495 crore.

Sources, however, said it will take at least three years for these new power projects to go into production if everything goes smoothly.

The project for Aminbazar Old Air Port 230KV transmission line and associated sub-station will be implemented at a cost of Tk 653 crore. Donors will provide Tk 372 crore of the cost.

Two technical training centres at Rajbari and Homna of Comilla and a women's technical training centre at Kapasia of Gazipur will be constructed at a cost of Tk 41 crore.

Many cast doubts if these centres in these areas will get adequate students.

A jail will be constructed at Keraniganj in Dhaka at a cost of Tk 351 crore with the government's own resources. The project proposal mentioned that there are 11,000 prisoners at Dhaka Central Jail, which is 407.41 per cent higher than its capacity.

In a bid to make railway communication more effective, the Bangladesh Railway Sector Improvement project will be implemented at a cost of Tk 3,601 crore, of which Tk 2,881 will come from donation.

Donors will release funds for this project in phases on condition of turning Bangladesh Railway into a corporate entity and necessary progress towards that reform.

A secondary education development project will be implemented at a cost of Tk 793 crore of which donors will provide Tk 595 crore.