It is disheartening to learn from the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) secretary that three out of four projects undertaken under the annual development programme (ADP) fail to materialise within project deadlines! That speaks volumes about wasted financial resources and time and are proving to be costly for the government. These matters came to light during the 13th meeting of Public-Private Stakeholders’ Committee organised by the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) recently.
We are encouraged by the planning minister who has announced that no project will be revised more than twice. Implementing agencies will have to explain why such delays are occurring. The fact that bad contractors seem busier in killing time than getting a move on project work has been identified and a new policy on their conduct could change the way public projects are done in our country. Of course, all this has been said before. Precisely what steps are going to be taken against errant contractors is something we will have to wait and see, because several of the mega projects undertaken by the present government is years behind schedule.
It is hoped that CPTU will not waste time to formulate the policy. Although there exists a list of blacklisted contractors, it is apparently not followed strictly. The monitoring of contracts for thousands of ongoing projects will require engagement of citizens and it seems that the planning ministry hopes to engage citizens to give feedback on the progress of projects in their localities. If a workable mechanism can be found for citizens to give feedback, without fear of retribution from contractors, then it could pave the way for real time monitoring for the authorities. We hope the new policy will have provisions to not only cancel contracts but penalise contractors who deliberately delay work in the hope of getting timeline extensions resulting in cost overruns.