We must focus more on quality than quantity of development works
to avoid higher maintenance cost
said Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at the 11th PPSC meeting
"The lion's share of the budgetary allocation is spent for maintenance. We have to reduce wastage and show zero tolerance. We must focus more on quality than quantity of development works to avoid higher maintenance cost.” said Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. He advised to replicate citizens' engagement in public procurement process in at least 50 representative upazilas out of the total 491. He also pointed out that effective monitoring through citizens' engagement can reduce project cost and ensure quality. The planning minister also called for forming area-wise citizens' committee where community and opinion leaders will be the members to monitor various government projects. He was speaking at the 11th meeting of 'Public-Private Stakeholders Committee' (PPSC) under public procurement reform project II of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) at the NEC conference room in the city on 9 February 2017. BIGD, in association with the World Bank (WB) and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of IME Division, Ministry of Planning, organised the programme. At present, the project has been piloted in four upazilas of Sirajganj and Rangpur districts. As the broad objective of the PPRP-II is to improve performance of the public procurement system, the meeting discussed learning from the national seminar ‘Citizen Engagement in Public Procurement’ and provides a final update on the field activities.
Mr Kamal said the prime minister has the directive regarding citizens' engagement. There should be identical colour and signboard with description of all development projects; he suggested referring to the PM's instruction. Ruling out various objections about projects of the government, the minister said no project plan is approved without feasibility study and much discussion. "First we see whether the project is in conflict with the 7th five year plan," he said, adding, needs assessment is of course done for any project. "If we can start this practice, this will bring benefit and no harm," he said.
BIGD adjunct fellow Mirza M Hassan made a presentation on experience of pilot projects in four upazilas. He said citizens' engagement needs to be formalised under a legal framework to avoid unnecessary harassment of any party during the project work. It was also observed during the discussion meeting with engineers that project specification was not followed meticulously during implementation stage. Mr Hassan proposed that the pilot projects should be scaled up to district level in a more complex society to ensure quality of project implementation and needs assessment.
Chief procurement specialist of the World Bank, Dhaka Zafrul Islam said citizens' engagement is a new concept although it was thought to be a buzz word a few years back. He noted that citizens' engagement in projects can ensure good governance. There are problems at grassroots level while implementing policy-level decisions, he said. It is necessary to know what the field-level people think about projects and awareness should be created among the field-level officers, he added.
Among others, Md. Faruque Hossain, Director General, CPTU; Syed Rashedul Hossen, Deputy Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance; Md. Mahmudul Hoque, Joint Secretary, IMED; Md. Rois Uddin, Additional Secretary, LGD,; Md. Nazrul Islam, Member, Planning Commission; Md. Fazlur Rahman, Director Programme, DPE; Brig. Gen. Md. Parvvez Kabir, Director, CMSD; Munshi basher Ahmed, Director, Project Planning, PDB; Mohammad Eklas Uddin, Director of Finance, EWU, Abdul Ahad, Director, Finance and Admin, TIB and Engr. S M Khorshed Alam, Vice President, BACI also shared their observations and suggestions at the meeting.
PPSC is largely focusing on the key sectoral ministries and targeting their implementing agencies, including Roads and Highways (RHD), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Rural Electrification Board (REB) and Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). The PPRP-II has four components: 1) furthering policy reform and institutionalizing capacity development, II) strengthening procurement management at sectoral level and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU)/ Implementation Moni-toring and Evaluation Division (IMED), III) introducing e-Govern-ment (e-GP) behavioural change communication and social accountability.