IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING
11.1.1 Like any other Plan, the success of the Fifth Five Year Plan will depend on the proper implementation of its programmes and projects, implementation monitoring and post-implementation evaluation. This is particularly important in view of the fact that it is a flexible plan and plan projections will be revised based on evaluation of actual performance. Annual Development Programme (ADP) is the operational document of a Five Year Plan in respect of the public sector. It is basically a list of all public sector development projects undertaken during a fiscal year. While ideally, it should be a list of approved projects duly appraised by appropriate authorities, the list in reality consists of projects at different stages of approval including unapproved ones. The implementation of the public sector part of a plan involves the implementation of these projects in ADPs and policies supporting them. While for all practical purposes, plan implementation was essentially viewed as the implementation of the public sector projects, monitoring and evaluation of the projects, policy planning and policy implementation have received less attention. But with the reorientation of the economy towards a free market, the private sector will assume greater role and public policies, greater significance. So monitoring of their impact on the private sector and on the economy as a whole will demand greater attention.
11.2 Implementation of Plan/Projects
11.2.1 In the project cycle, project implementation is the most critical phase as it is determined by realities and contingencies. It is further determined by the initial conditions such as project approval status and timely commitment of fund. As mentioned above, ADP is traditionally composed of many unapproved schemes which affect project implementation. Project implementation consists of the following main stages which may overlap with one another:
a. Feasibility study;
b. Appraisal of project and acceptance by development partner
(for aided project);
c. Approval of projects and assigning responsibility of implementation
to an agency;
d. Appointment of project director (PD) and project staff;
e. Setting up of project office (where applicable);
f. Appointment of consultants (where applicable);
g. Allocation and release of fund;
h. Land acquisition (where applicable);
i. Procurement of goods and services;
j. Execution of projects;
k. Evaluation of completed projects; and
l. Impact evaluation.
11.2.2 Project approval : Strictly speaking, approval of projects should pre-date its implementation. However, due to delays in processing of projects or exigencies, sometimes implementation of a project begins even prior to its formal approval. In the recent past, there has been a marked improvement in the process of approval of projects. The government is also seriously considering delegating more power of approval to administrative ministries in order to expedite implementation. This will, however, require further strengthening of the planning wings of some of the ministries for ensuring quality of project formulation and evolving an alternative institutional procedure for co-ordination.
11.2.3 Assigning responsibility of implementation to an agency : While there is no bar against ministries directly implementing projects, this is generally left to their subordinate agencies like autonomous bodies (e.g. Water Development Board for irrigation projects), directorates and departments. Usually, project formulation and preparation are also the responsibility of the implementing agencies in so much as they conceptualise most of the projects in line with the policy parameters given by the relevant ministries.
11.2.4 Appointment of project director and project staff : Once a project is approved, the relevant agency appoints a Project Director with the concurrence of the administrative ministry. The PD then has to appoint the project staff some of whom may be seconded from the ministry and/or the agency. The selection of a suitable PD is crucial to the project's success. Project implementation suffers frequently due to the selection of a wrong type of PD. Project implementation also suffers from frequent transfer of PDs and absence of PDs at project sites during implementation. Forward planning to complete the preparatory works of a project may help in partly resolving this problem. This issue needs serious attention of implementing agencies.
11.2.5 Allocation/Release of fund : The procedure for release of fund has become simpler than before. Yet it still remains one of the major causes of slow utilisation of financial resources for project implementation. Every year a new circular detailing procedures for fund release is issued by the Finance Division. The delay in its circulation along with occasional changes in the provisions make it difficult to get early release of funds. Release procedures for approved and unapproved projects are different and are more stringent in case of the latter. Financial powers delegated at different levels need to be re-examined and where necessary, may be enhanced. Standard procedures of fund release will also be put in place.
11.2.6 Land acquisition : Land acquisition, particularly in case of infrastructure projects has remained a sore point in project implementation. The legal procedures are cumbersome and delay the implementation of projects. The social cost due to displacement of people from the project land is sometimes high. Recently, however, large development projects like the Bangabandhu Bridge Project has put in operation the resettlement/rehabilitation of people affected by land acquisition. The government is also considering a set of guidelines for land acquisition and resettlement for private sector infrastructure development. All these procedures need to be made uniform and a clear legal and institutional framework will be introduced during the Fifth Five Year Plan. An important way to minimise social cost of land acquisition is to involve the beneficiaries of a project at the project formulation stage through formation of advisory committee. Quantum of land will be determined judiciously so that no land is acquired which will remain unutilised.
11.2.7 Procurement of goods and services : Delay in procurement of equipment and hiring of consultancy services are major problems affecting project implementation. The problem is particularly intractable in case of aided projects because the multi-lateral and bi-lateral development partners tend to pursue their own standards for procurement of goods and services. Such diversities compound the problems of procurement at the users end. The problem may be further confusing in case of co-financing (from more than one sources). To overcome these problems, after a careful study in the late 1980s, new procurement guidelines were issued by the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in 1992. Project directors and agency officials need to be trained in the use of these guidelines. The effectiveness of the new system should also be reviewed and problems which may still persist should be resolved.