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Better monitoring for quality public spending stressed PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

Finance and planning adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam has stressed the need for improving coordination among government agencies for better utilisation of public resources as he reckoned the current monitoring process of development project implementation anomalous.

The adviser, addressing a seminar on Saturday, cited an implementing agency had reported spending of 65 per cent of the allocation for a development project whereas an investigation by the monitoring authority found utilisation of only 5-6 per cent of the resources.

The money was withdrawn and perhaps kept in a bank account, he told the seminar on Strengthening Result-Based Monitoring and Evaluation of Project organised by the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division to finalise its strategic plan. Jointly funded by the government and the Asian Development Bank, the Tk 7-crore project is designed to include some result indicators for development spending.

Currently, evaluation of the projects under the annual development programme is done mainly on the basis of spending money. ADB country director Hua Du insisted that development planning must be made considering the local context so that exercises such as managing for results did not come to an end with the expiry of the project. She felt that inter-agency coordination was extremely important in Bangladesh to ensure effective utilisation of resources.

She also pointed out that lack of availability of accurate data was a major challenge to development planning. The finance and planning adviser laid emphasis on revisiting the development plans to ensure transparency and accountability, especially in view of the government s move to formulate Right to Information Act soon. Recalling his statement on placing development spending on official website during the announcement of the 2007-08 budget, he mentioned that the interim government was determined to ensure transparency and accountability in spending public money.

However, the officials of the division later said the website could not be developed since all the agencies of the government were yet to respond to queries on implementation status of their development projects. Mirza Aziz further said public investment in the country in terms of volume increased in the past and it should increase in the future, given unwillingness of the private sector to invest in some areas.

Reality is that any government will have to increase public investment for a long time, he added. But the principle of allocation of resources could not always be guided by performance, he said, giving the example of the health sector, in which allocation could not be reduced even in case of poor performance. Chaired by the IMED secretary Sheikh AK Motahar Hossain, the seminar was addressed, among others, by Dhaka University teacher Niaz Ahmed Khan and IMED officials Fazlul Karim, Amulya Kumar Debnath and Abdul Hye Talukder.

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