The health sector is the lowest performer among the top 15 ministries in implementing the ADP, according to an IMED report
The Health Ministry has been unable to spend three quarters of its allocation in the Annual Development Program (ADP) for the 2020-21 fiscal year after the government placed emphasis on the health sector considering the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government allocated Tk25,445 crore to the Health Ministry for FY2020-21, including Tk13,466 crore for operational costs and Tk11,979 crore under the ADP. However, the authorities concerned had spent only Tk2,755.17crore (23%) of the ADP allocation as of April this year, leaving Tk9,223.83 crore unspent, according to the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the government.
The allocation for the health sector in the revised ADP was Tk7,857.48 crore, which is 5.72% of the total ADP.
An IMED report revealed that the health sector is the lowest performer among the top 15 ministries in implementing the ADP. Some ministries, such as the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry and Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, have managed to spend more than 60% of their ADP allocation in the first nine months of FY2020-21.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam told Dhaka Tribune: “We have lagged behind in implementing the ADP as we are massively engaged in managing the Covid-19 crisis. In particular, the second wave hit the implementation of the ADP hard.
“However, we are now emphasizing the implementation of the ADP,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Majority of projects faced delays
The Health Ministry took up hundreds of projects in the ongoing fiscal year, including boosting oxygen supply to ICUs and health facilities at the grassroots. However, most of the projects failed to meet deadlines.
The DGHS has been the main wing of the Health Ministry in the execution of development programs. Newly appointed Health Services Division Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah last month held a meeting on the ADP with officials concerned.
According to the minutes of the meeting held on April 20, Lokman Hossain Miah said the performance of the Health Services Division had not been satisfactory. He asked that officials who failed to execute the government’s plans be identified and necessary action be taken against them.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, former advisor to the last caretaker government, told Dhaka Tribune the Health Ministry was far behind in executing the ADP due to lack of technical capacity as well as problems related to governance.
“Delays to project implementation are also the result of the poor leadership of the ministry,” said Zillur Rahman, who is executive chairman of the Power and Participation Research Centre.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque could not be reached for comment.
Delays in vaccine purchase
According to the ADP for the Health Ministry, the government is to contribute Tk5,532 crore for the purchase of vaccines, while Tk6,447crore is to come from foreign lending sources.
The government had also wanted to buy vaccines from different sources under funding from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, with the World Bank and ADB supposed to contribute Tk3,000crore and Tk700 crore, respectively.
However, all of the aforementioned vaccine purchase initiatives are yet to be implemented.
The funding for the vaccines bought from Serum Institute of India was provided by Beximco, with the government serving as the guarantor of the deal.
Apart from the vaccine, other lending projects have also been progressing slowly. The ministry has spent only 10.31% the allocated amount for such projects.
“It is not expected for such a big amount of funds to go unspent,” said Pradip Ranjan Chakraborty, secretary of IMED.
He told Dhaka Tribune that the Health Ministry had already taken some initiatives with the Finance Division to accelerate the progress of the ADP.
The government allocated Tk3,000 crore more than in the previous year following expert opinion in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.