January 23, 2021, 11:04 pm

Abu Taher Bappa

2020-12-03 14:17:56 BdST

Spending spree to wash out public money!

The state-owned Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) has undertaken a handwash basin installation project without any feasibility study but with higher costs for the job.

As per the proposal, insiders said on Wednesday, it would spend a staggering Tk 0.127 million on setting up each handwash basin for the Tk 3.27-billion project.

The health engineering department has proposed appointment of a consultant at Tk 12.93 million for the work, officials familiar with the project said.

They said the DPHE would purchase each mask at Tk 200, glove at Tk 400, gumboot at Tk 800, uniform at Tk 1,800 and spear machine at Tk 2,600.

The stuff will be distributed among for the project staff members who will be engaged in cleaning basins.

Earlier, Planning Commission (PC) made its reservations about the costly project for lack of a feasibility study and higher cost projection at some components.

It sent back the development project proposal (DPP) to the DPHE, seeking a feasibility study, cost rationalisation and detailed procurement plans on different components.

The state-owned department concerned has recently sought approval of the project in a bid to tackle the spread of deadly coronavirus.

The DPHE would borrow Tk 2.86 billion from Islami Development Bank (IsDB) for installing handwash facilities at hospitals, shanties, community clinics and public places.

It plans to install 12,400 basins with water supply facilities for washing hands, another 12,400 basins without water supply and 800 mobile handwash facilities at district and sub-district levels.

The DPHE has set aside Tk 19.06 million for logistic support that the PC observed unnecessary for a short-span (one year and a half) project, insiders said.

The PC project evaluation committee (PEC) at its meeting decided that the DPHE has not picked certain places for handwash facilities as the implementing agency has not any feasibility study.

It could conflict or overlap with the similar nature of projects and break the fiscal and development discipline of the government, the committee opined.

The DPHE also proposed to procure goods and services through a manual tendering process instead of an online system through e-GP, another official said.

It is also a big question about the massive Tk 3.27 billion fund supply by for the government within a shorter lifetime of the project, he added.

The project has been proposed for completion between July 2020 and December 2021.

A senior health ministry official said they were also implementing a similar project at hospitals across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed project of the DPHE could thus be a reason of overlapping, he told the PEC meeting.

When asked, a senior PC official said the PEC has recommended recasting the DPP with necessary changes.

It also asked the DPHE to do feasibility before recasting the DPP for assessing viability of the project, he said on condition of anonymity.

"The PEC made reservations on the prices of mask, gumboot, uniform and other products to be utilised by the staff for sanitation and hygiene."

As a lion's share of the fund would come as external credit, priorities should be re-examined before resending the proposal to the PC, the official said.

When asked, DPHE superintending engineer (planning circle) Anwar Eusuf said that they have already done a feasibility study as per the PEC's requirement.

They have had complied with all the recommendations, including cost rationalisation and recently sent the DPP again to the PC for approval.

About the overlapping of the scope of work with other similar projects of health and other ministries, Mr Eusuf could not tell details on the project.

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