Development projects proliferating despite directive to limit number
Jul 28, 2014-The number of development programmes and projects have gone up despite the government’s continued insistence that resources be funnelled towards a few big schemes for better economic output. According to the National Planning Commission (NPC), 491 central-level projects have been planned under different ministries in the current fiscal year 2014-15 compared to 455 last year.
The greatest number of projects fall under the ministries of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Energy and Roads. Projects under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development sector swelled from 32 last year to 43 this year.
While district-level projects are usually heavily fragmented, the number of national-level projects also went up this fiscal year inviting concern over fragmentation of resources at both the central and district levels.
A member of the NPC Chandramani Adhikari defended the rise in the number of projects saying that they were all government priorities.
“As national-level projects are usually not dictated by political influence, a few more will not make much of a difference,” he said. There is still room for improvement in the project selection of central-level projects too, he added.
The district-level projects which were included in the Annual Development Programme (Part II) got there under the influence of politicians and government bigwigs. Lawmakers have demanded handouts of Rs 50 million each to carry out such small projects.
“We have to be more concerned about the district-level projects. Many of them are never completed, and budget is heavily fragmented,” said Adhikari. However, economists have argued that the number of projects should not be many even if they are priority projects as fragmentation of resources will result in inadequate funds for the very important projects. They have also expressed concern that a higher number of first priority projects compared to second and third priority projects has also contributed to resource fragmentation.
Former NPC vice-chairman Shankar Sharma said that there was a tendency among ministries to include as many projects as possible in the first priority list which leads to resources fragmentation.
“That’s why stringent criteria should be fixed for projects to be designated as first priority,” he added.
Among the central level projects, 339 have been named first priority, 133 second priority and 22 third priority which means that 69 percent of the projects are in the first priority category.
Published: 29-07-2014 09:24