The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has sought to spend Tk 12.93 billion as tax and VAT for widening a 54km road with support from the Indian Line of Credit (LoC) in eastern Bangladesh, insiders have said.
The state-owned road developer has sought to hire foreign consultants investing Tk 497.86 million for supervising the reconstruction of the 54km Mainamoti (Cumilla)-Dharkhar (Brahmanbaria) national highway into a 4-lane one, they said.
The RHD has also proposed the procurement of 18 vehicles including four luxury jeeps and four luxury double-cabin pick-ups at a cost of Tk 62 million for supervising the road improvement work.
According to RHD officials, they had recently undertaken the Improvement of Mainamati-Dharkhar national highway into the 4-lane project at a cost of Tk 74.19 billion with the financial support from the Indian LoC-II to facilitate cross-border communication with the neighbouring Indian state Tripura.
Out of the cost, the Bangladesh government would provide the lion's share, Tk 45 billion, while the remaining amount of Tk 29.187 billion would come as the project assistance from the Indian LoC-II.
The project is now under close scrutiny of the Planning Commission (PC) before approval as the road developer has proposed comparatively high costs for the highway widening work, officials said.
The Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) of the PC raised questions over the cost estimates for different components in the development project proposal (DPP) and recommended rationalisation of the costs.
The RHD has sought to send its officials abroad for training to gather knowledge on the 4-lane road construction, as it set aside Tk 2.5 million for this purpose.
In addition, to the purchase of 16 vehicles at a cost of Tk82 million, the RHD has proposed Tk 19.39 million to be set aside for maintenance of the automobiles, supply of oil and CNG during the three and a half years' tenure of the project.
Out of the Tk 19.39 million, the state-owned road developer will purchase CNG at Tk 7.44 million and oil and lubricant at Tk 10.27 million to run those luxury cars and motorbikes.
A senior PC official said the RHD proposed an estimate of Tk410 per cubic metre of earthen work for the road development work which is almost double the cost required for similar nature of the project in Bangladesh.
The ongoing Joydevpur-Mymensingh project authority estimated Tk 219 per cubic metre of earthen work.
Besides, the RHD also proposed a huge amount of Tk 11.38 billion for price adjustment in the DPP which also seemed very high for this 54km road widening project, said the PC official.
According to the project proposal, the RHD has set aside Tk 1.0 million as the honorarium for the members of different committees like Project Steering Committee, Technical Evaluation Committee, and panel of experts.
The PC official said the road developer proposed Tk 377.17 million for project site development which also seemed very high.
"The PEC has raised questions over the estimations of different components in the DPP. It has sent back the project proposal to the RHD and asked recasting it with cost rationalisation as per the recommendations of the meeting," said the PC official.
"Most of the funds will be provided by the government from its hard-earned tax money. So, the project implementing agencies should be rational in their cost estimations," he added.