As COVID-19 has potentially triggered an economic slowdown which may lead to a possible fund crunch in the coming days, the government has planned to put its ongoing development projects in three prioritised categories for monitoring and budget allocation in the next fiscal (2020-21).
The three categories are: high priority, medium priority and low priority ones.
"The government has made the list aiming to have a better monitoring on the ongoing projects under the ADP which we had not done since 2009," Planning Minister MA Mannan told UNB.
In the past, he said, the government used to give importance to all of its projects equally and there were some mega projects, too.
"Nationally, mega projects used to get attention. This time, the priorities have been categorised just because of the coronavirus (and its impact on the economy). Normally, it was not supposed to be like this," the minister said.
MA Mannan said the government has to move forward with the prioritised approach while implementing the ADP. "We’ll allocate for the high priority projects first -- like health and agriculture sector. These sectors will get the highest attention," he said.
Talking about the ongoing mega projects of the government, he said the projects like Padma Bridge and Metro Rail have become part of the national psyche. "People are waiting with high hopes to see these projects implemented…we cannot reduce focus from these, not at all, and we won’t do it either," he said.
The bureaucrat-turned-politician, however, said if the current situation prolongs then the government has to review the projects under these three categories from time to time.
According to sources at the Planning Ministry, the size of the proposed ADP for 2020-21 fiscal will be Tk 205,145 crore where the number of the projects will be around 1,500.
The ADP size for the current fiscal (2019-20) was Tk 202,721 crore, but it was later revised to Tk 192,921 crore.
The Planning Minister admitted that the ADP size for the next fiscal will relatively be lower.
"Compared to the growing size of ADP during the last decade, this year it’s going to be smaller, but it’s still slightly bigger than the revised one. Had the situation been normal we would have had a much bigger ADP for the next fiscal," he said.
The minister termed coronavirus the main culprit for this sudden slow progress in the ADP.
"Everything has been closed for two months…revenue earning has come to a halt … from where we’ll get taxes, duties and VAT if the business and trade remain shut," he said.
He also mentioned that the day-to-day activities of people have been on hold since March 26 and people are sitting at their homes idle.
Mannan said the government has to provide relief materials and other assistance to the distressed people. "These have to be accommodated in the next budget. So, it’s not possible to maintain the previous pace in the next year's ADP. This time, we’ve to do some kind of rehabilitation works (in the coming fiscal)."
Regarding the ADP approval by the National Economic Council (NEC), the minister said his ministry will sit with key stakeholders to discuss the draft ADP on May 12. "We’ll finalise the draft first and then it’ll be sent to the Prime Minister for her final approval," he said.
Normally, MA Manna mentioned, the NEC, headed by the Prime Minister, gives the final approval to ADP.
"But due to the social distancing, there might not be any NEC meeting this year, but everything depends on the desire of the Prime Minister. If there’s no NEC meeting, we can send a summary to her for the final approval and she can approve it through her executive power," he said.
The Planning Minister said everything will be done by May 20.