ADB disappointed with weak project performance

Kathmandu, October 31

The performance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) assisted projects has been moving at a rather slow pace than expected in 2017 as there is a huge gap in contract award and disbursement target and achievement.

Out of the total contract award target of $404 million, the government has been able to award contracts worth only $259 million and disbursement stands at $175 million as compared to the target of $253 million till September.

During the tripartite review meeting of the third quarter of 2017 among representatives of ADB, Ministry of Finance and the concerned executing agencies, ADB stated that contract award and disbursement scenarios have remained lackadaisical as works on 10 projects, which are worth an estimated $408 million, are far behind schedule.

ADB expressed concerns over the slow progress of Tribhuvan International Airport expansion project, Gautam Buddha International Airport project, and Melamchi Water Supply and its associated Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Projects during the tripartite review meeting.

ADB has questioned the rationality of extending the deadlines of some projects like Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project, which is related to the expansion of TIA and was supposed to have been completed by 2015.

“It has been eight years since the project commenced but its physical progress is nil,” said Baikuntha Aryal, joint-secretary of the Ministry of Finance, who heads the International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division (IECCD). In the meeting, executing agency of the respective project, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), has sought a three-year extension for the project.

Likewise, physical progress of the Gautam Buddha International Airport is just 27 per cent, however, 80 per cent of the time that was stipulated for the completion of the project has already elapsed.  Apart from this, progress of energy sector projects namely, SASEC Roads Improvement Project, Tanahu Hydropower and SASEC Power System Expansion also have not been encouraging.

Out of the $2.3 billion worth portfolio of 35 projects in Nepal, urban and water (32 per cent), energy (26 per cent) and transport (20 per cent) hold the major share of ADB’s portfolio. In the meeting, 19 projects of five sectors — transport and communication, education, earthquake emergency, water and sanitation, and energy — were reviewed.

In the meeting, ADB South Asia Deputy Director General Diwesh Sharan said that the executing agencies have not even complied with the agreed action that was discussed during the previous tripartite review meeting. “Executing agencies have complied with only 65 per cent of the planned action in 2017.”

Adding further, Sharan also highlighted the same systemic problems that are being discussed since long like transfer of key staff project officials, delays in approval process of land acquisition, environmental clearances and weak implementation. “By the end of

September, only 49 per cent of the targeted annual contract award and 52 of the disbursement target have been achieved.” He stressed on the focused and collective efforts from government and ADB to achieve the annual target.

In the meeting, Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari said the actions that have been agreed upon in the meeting should be taken promptly to expedite the projects.