Tk37.07 cr of the total budget of Tk68.18 cr is not accounted for
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said 54% of total money allocated for climate change mitigation projects has been misappropriated through corruption and mismanagement.
TIB revealed the damning statistics in its new report through a virtual press conference on Thursday.
The organization had chosen seven projects in different localities of the country for research. Of them, four projects were implemented by the forest department, two by local government divisions and one by the Power Development Board (PDB). The projects were completed at different times between 2011 and 2018.
Md Razu Ahmed Masum, assistant manager, research (climate finance governance) of TIB, presented the research paper, entitled “Climate Change Mitigation Finance and Project Implementation in Bangladesh: Governance, Challenges and Way Forward.”
A total of Tk68.18 crore was allocated against the projects. Of the amount, Tk37.07 crore is not accounted for. The Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh (CAG) did not audit any of the projects, states the report.
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All the projects were tendered on the basis of political recommendations. A former minister’s private secretary took 10% of the total budget as a bribe for the approval of three of the seven projects.
The study, commencing in June 2018, ended in September 2020. Implementing agencies, contractors, public representatives and locals were interviewed to gather information.
In one of the projects undertaken by the forest department, all equipment vanished after project completion, and is yet to be located. The forest department also planted 100,000 fewer trees than it was supposed to, as per project documents.
Other lapses by the forest department include misappropriation of funds and planting of seedlings of lower quality than required as per project documents.
One of the projects undertaken by the local government division showed expenses to be 70% greater than the actual figure.
The Power Development Board, for its sole project, showed each acre of land to cost Tk1,100,000 more than the actual price.
It is clear that large amounts of money were lost to corruption and misappropriation, said TIB.
Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, said: “Projects are taken and implemented by political influence, and public opinion is ignored. Even the CAG office and IMID of the planning commission did not audit and evaluate the projects.”
“Lack of public participation, accountability and increased political influence created the opportunity for corruption,” he said.
State of funds from international sources
For climate change mitigation, Bangladesh has only managed Tk12,700 crore so far from international funds and other sources despite aiming to receive Tk230,000 crore within 2030.
Between 2010 and 2019, Bangladesh got 95% of its funds for climate change mitigation from international sources. Only 5% of it was paid by the Bangladesh government.
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“Only 15% of the money received from international sources are taken as grants. The rest is taken as loan and in other forms,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
“The government is not taking the correct steps to receive international funds. Moreover, Bangladesh itself is increasing carbon emissions by building new coal and LNG based power plants. By doing so, the country is losing its image in the international arena.”
TIB recommended proper monitoring, audit and evaluation of projects and preparing public reports based on such activities.
It also recommended taking necessary steps to make sure the accountability of implementing agencies and contractors and their capacity to do the job before approval of any project.
Furthermore, TIB demanded necessary steps to punish those involved in corruption in completed projects.