The ruling Awami League government plans to showcase the Padma Bridge and the Metro Rail project in the election campaign
The construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant at Rooppur is set to receive the highest budget allocation ever proposed for a single project in Bangladesh.
Already part complete, the 2,400 MW plant on the Padma River is one of seven “Fast Track” projects the government is prioritising in its final budget before the parliamentary election, which is due to be held in December.
The other six are the long-awaited Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the Padma Rail Link, Metro Rail (MRT Line 6) in Dhaka, the Dohazari-Ghundhum Rail Line, the Matarbari Power Plant, and Payra Seaport.
They will receive a total of Tk40,000 crore in the budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, a rise of Tk6,500cr from the current budget.
Of these, the Rooppur Power Plant will be allocated over half of the available funds - Tk20,050 crore - while the Padma Bridge will receive Tk6,762cr and Metro Rail 3,826cr.
Together, these three projects make up the lion’s share of the proposal: Tk30,638 crore.
Although the government will not undertake any new major infrastructure projects for the rest of this year, these and other development projects it has already undertaken will be given top priority in the election campaign.
“We will give priority to mega projects because they are the government’s priority,” Finance Division Secretary Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated building work for the Rooppur plant on December 1, 2017. It is expected to generate 1,200MW electricity in 2024 and an additional 1,200 MW from 2025.
The ruling Awami League government also plans to showcase the Padma Bridge and the Metro Rail project in the election campaign, since both are becoming increasingly visible to the public.
The concerned ministries have already held several meetings to discuss the allocations for the mega projects, and to assess the progress made in their construction.
As such the Finance Division has proposed Tk6,762 crore for the Padma Bridge, which the government wants to see opened to traffic within this fiscal year. According to the Bridge Division, around 52% of main construction work on the country’s longest river crossing is already complete.
The construction work of MRT Line 6 between Uttara and Motijheel is also in full swing, with one section running from Uttara to Agargoan slated to be operational by December 2019.
The Metro Rail authority has already spent Tk2,082 crore to implement the project, while the government has approved an increased cost of around Tk324 crore in the election year.
The government hopes to use these three successes to offset the very slow progress made in its other marquee projects, namely the Padma Rail Line, Dohazari-Ghundhum Rail Link, Matarbari Power Plant and Payra Seaport.
The government’s allocation to these projects in the coming budget is similarly smaller in proportion, though higher than those of the current budget. It is planning to issue a guideline on how it will implement the projects on schedule.
The Padma Rail Link is being stalled by a funding crisis, although a positive note was struck when the Chinese Exim Bank recently inked a deal with Bangladesh Railways to release a new round of finance.
Separately, the Asian Development Bank has agreed to fund the Dohazari-Ghundhum Rail Line project.