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$19.3bn foreign aid in pipeline till Jun 30

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Staff Reporter
The Cabinet on Monday expressed its satisfaction over the progress of implementation of the foreign-aided projects and directed the authorities concerned to further expedite the implementation of projects.
The directive came from a meeting of the Cabinet when the Economic Relations Division (ERD) of the Finance Ministry submitted a report before the Cabinet on the amount of foreign aid in the pipeline and its utilization. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting.
Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the amount of foreign aid to Bangladesh in the pipeline totaled $19.3 billion till June 30, 2014.
He said that according to the ERD estimation, about 18 percent of foreign aid out of the pipeline is disbursed every year on average and an aided project usually takes some 6 (six) years to be implemented.
The Cabinet Secretary said that the ERD has taken initiative to this end to raise the disbursement of foreign aid to 22 percent from 18 percent on average per year by June 2016 out of the amount in the pipeline.
“Initiative would also be there to raise the aid disbursement gradually to 25 percent per year on average to make the implementation tenure of the foreign aided projects to four years.”
He said the Cabinet expressed satisfaction over the disbursement of fund by the development partners as well as its utilization, and directed the authorities concerned to further expedite the implementation of projects.
The Cabinet also observed that the trend of foreign aid commitments and disbursements is better in Bangladesh compared to the other countries.
The ERD report also cited five reasons for delay in the execution of the foreign aided projects. These are delay in appointing necessary manpower in the projects; complexities in land acquisition; delay in the formulation of Development Project Proforma and also in procurement while there is often re-tendering; delay because of the development partners especially in getting no objection from them in various tiers of procurement in the aided projects.
Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the government is aware of the situation and has been trying its best to overcome the situation.
Under the circumstances, the ERD put forward a three-point recommendation that include strengthening the inspection and monitoring system; resolving any problem by holding tripartite meeting among the government, implementing agencies and the development partners; and empowering the field offices of the development partners on procurement related matters.
About the foreign aid of $ 19.3 billion in the pipeline, the Cabinet Secretary said the commitment of foreign aid has increased over the years so also the disbursement of aid and aid in the pipeline. “This is not unusual or abnormal.”
He also informed that the amount of commitment of foreign aid till the last fiscal year since independence totaled $ 86.89 billion.
The Cabinet was informed about the participation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the 10th ASEM summit held in the Italian city of Milan on October 16-17, 2014.
Besides, the Cabinet was also apprised of the reports on the participation of Bangladesh delegation at the third meeting of Bangladesh-India joint consultation commission held at New Delhi in September 18-20, 2014; participations of State Minister for Finance and Planning at the 70th annual session of UN ESCAP in Thailand on August 4-8, 2014 and at the Asia Pacific Outreach Meeting on Sustainable Development Financing held at the Indonesian capital Jakarta from June 10-11; participation of State Minister for Foreign Affairs at ‘New Partnership for Development of Productive Capacities in LDCs' held in Benin from July 28-31; and visit of the Food Minister to Russia for the procurement of wheat on G to G level.
Ministers and State Ministers attended the meeting while concerned secretaries were present.