Roadmap for faster ADB projects execution

The government in cooperation with Asian Development Bank (ADB) has started making a short-and-medium-term roadmap for fiscal year 2021-2022 (FY22) to further accelerate implementation of ADB-assisted projects in the country.

Bangladesh needs to focus on beefing up implementation of projects for faster socioeconomic recovery as overall economic activities along with implementation of development projects were hit hard after the outbreak of Covid-19 since March 2020, said an official of the Planning Ministry.

"The Manila-based development partner has assured us of continuing its overall cooperation for faster socioeconomic recovery of Bangladesh," the official added.   

ADB’s current sovereign portfolio has 52 projects with $11.26 billion in six sectors -- energy, transport, water and urban/municipal infrastructure and services, education, finance, and agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, according to the Planning Ministry. 

The cumulative lending to Bangladesh stands at around $39 billion in loans and grants, including cofinancing, said a Planning Ministry official.

Both the government and the ADB in a recent meeting reviewed the progress of actions agreed in late 2020, and readiness status of 2021 pipeline projects. Both the sides agreed to take specific actions accelerating implementation of slow moving projects and utilization of the project money expeditiously, the official said.  

"Speeding up procurement, accelerating approval, mobilizing consultants and contractors early, and implementing health safety guidelines are some of the special actions agreed today,” said the Planning Ministry official.

He said the government and ADB agreed on the need for engaging efficient consultants and contractors, effective contract management, efficient land acquisition and resettlement, proper implementation of environmental management plan, and sound financial management, in addition to ensuring proper readiness before processing projects.

ADB has already provided $650 million in loans and $7.23 million in grants for managing socioeconomic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and supporting quick recovery, according to the recently published Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021.  

ADB is also processing two program loans of $500 million each and a $940 million loan for the government’s Covid-19 vaccine program.  

For 2021-2023, ADB has programmed $5.9 billion firm and $5.2  billion standby project assistance for Bangladesh.

According to ADB, Bangladesh economy was showing signs of recovery with higher remittances, exports and other indicators as the government managed the first wave of Covid-19 in 2020 well as the stimulus measures and economic policies have largely been effective.

It said the ongoing pandemic is an opportunity to undertake further reforms in social protection and health sector, improving competitiveness of the private sector, reducing cost of doing business, diversifying exports, and developing skills.

The development partner suggested expanding social safety nets, enhancing investments, creating employment, ensuring mass vaccination, and improving the health sector for achieving the Eighth Five Year Plan (July 2020- June 2025) goals.

In its 47-year-long partnership with Bangladesh, ADB has mobilized around $40 billion in loans  and  grants,  including  cofinancing,  to  help  bring  better  infrastructure,  public services, and social development outcomes to the people of Bangladesh.