The Planning Commission wilts under the "pressure" of projects flooding in for incorporation into the upcoming Annual Development Programme (ADP), many sans fund allocation.
Some are fresh, some are unapproved through vetting. Promoters of such projects are pressing for bending government rules and regulations, officials concerned said Saturday, as the PC gets down to framing the development budget for the next financial year (FY), 2017-18.
Almost all the ministries have sent hundreds of fresh and unapproved projects to the Commission for their inclusion in the upcoming ADP, mostly taken up under "political pressure" and don't have proper feasibility study, the sources said.
"We are under severe pressure from many ministries and divisions to include their projects. Many of those schemes have not any feasibility study or even importance at this moment," some of the officials of the Commission told the FE.
The larger the ministries, the heavier the pressure on the PC for inclusion of their several hundred projects in the development programme for the next fiscal, they added.
The government every year prepares national budget wherein ADP is the main part for the development works.
In the ADP, the Planning Commission includes hundreds of projects-mostly ongoing and some approved but fresh ones-with allocation of money to facilitate development of the country's infrastructure and fight hunger.
In addition, some other fresh but unapproved projects based on national priority and necessity find place in the ADP every year.
The PC recently started work to prepare the ADP for the upcoming FY2018 where more than 1200 ongoing projects are expected to be included with fund allocations for the execution.
"We have already received two lists of projects from every ministry and division. One includes ongoing projects with fund allocations and another one is of unapproved fresh projects having no fund allocations," said a senior PC official.
"Now we are scrutinising both the lists. We are giving priority to those fresh projects which are very important to the country and have the feasibility study. We are trying to delist the less-priority ones," he added.
The official, however, said some ministries and divisions are always twisting arm of the PC for adopting less-priority and unproductive projects.
According to the PC, the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry has sent a list of some 154 fresh and unapproved projects, the Railway Ministry 64 and the Power Division nearly 96 projects.
In the current FY2017 ADP, the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry has got some 142 ongoing investment projects, Railway Ministry has 34 and the Power Division has 60 projects.
Meanwhile, in the ongoing ADP, the government included the record-highest 1,417 unapproved fresh projects without allocating funds, mostly 'on political considerations'.
The number of fresh projects (1417) is higher than the approved (1141) ones in the ADP, endorsed by the government's highest economic policymaking body-the National Economic Council (NEC)--in May last year.
Development experts said the steep rise in the number of unapproved projects without fund allocation in the ADP is bad news for the economy as those are mostly included "on political considerations".
"Many ongoing projects under ADP struggle for fund shortage every year. The government could not allocate funds even for the priority ones as they required. In addition, if the fresh unapproved projects without fund allocation are included in the ADP, the PC will be obliged to endorse those giving allocation in the middle of a year. It will affect the ongoing project implementation further," said former Finance and Planning Adviser Dr Mirza Azizul Islam.
This way not only affected is fund allocation, projects also face delays and cost-overrun at one stage, resulting in waste of public money in the end, he told the FE.
The PC official said they had no other option but to include hundreds of unapproved projects in the development budget every year, without providing allocations, due to pressure from the ministers and political leaders.
"But most of such projects remain unimplemented in the end."
He adds: "As the projects do not have any proper feasibility study and design before their inclusion, ultimately most of them are not approved by the proper authority or dropped from the list the following year."