According to a TIB report, Tk37.07 crore has been embezzled through various irregularities and corruption
- Projects approved on the basis of political recommendations
- Lack of coordination among the institutions involved in implementation of mitigation projects
- No exact proportion of adaptation and mitigation funding
- Out of Tk2,30,000 crore projected amount from domestic and foreign sources by 2030, only 6% (Tk 12,699.60 crore) of the amount has been disbursed from international sources till 2019.
- Despite the promise of grant as climate finance from industrialized countries, only 15% of the funding disbursed
- Bd. Government's investment priority on coal and other fossil fuel-based projects a violation of commitments
- No timely roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Around 54.40% funding of climate change mitigation projects was embezzled or wasted through various irregularities and corruptions, says a Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) report.
The study was conducted on seven climate change mitigation projects worth Tk68.16 crore.
Of the amount, Tk37.07 crore was embezzled through various irregularities and corruptions, according to the report published at a virtual press conference on Thursday.
The research titled 'Climate Change Mitigation Finance and Project Implementation in Bangladesh: Governance Challenges and Way Forwards' was conducted from June 2018 to October this year.
Of the seven projects implemented between 2011 and 2018, four were on forestation and the implementing organisation was the Department of Forest.
The other three projects were on renewable energy and the implementing bodies were municipalities and Bangladesh Power Development Board.
However, TIB did not specify the name of projects.
Dr Ifekahruzzaman, executive director of TIB, said, "The projects were submitted, approved, and implemented on the basis of political consideration instead of requirements and relevance to local communities. As a result, the projects brought about financial losses only as people did not get any benefit."
Comparing implementation consistency with the approved project proposals, inconsistencies have been found in all the projects except one. The types and levels of these inconsistencies, however, are different, the study says.
The study indicates that all of the projects were approved on the basis of political recommendations.
There are allegations against a minister's personal assistant of accepting 10% project money in advance as bribe in exchange of managing approval of three different projects.
In an afforestation project, taka 3.27 crore was allocated and 40% money has been embezzled.
In another afforestation project, allegations of planting one lakh saplings less than the proposed number have been raised. Besides, vehicles and office equipment purchased under the project have disappeared from the project implementation office.
In another forestation project, about half of the total allocated funds, Tk17.32 crore, were embezzled by implementing only around 50% of the project work (while showing full work done in paper).
Although 650 kilowatts of solar power has been generated per day under a project, the power is being wasted as there is no executive order to supply more than 50 kilowatts of electricity daily to the consumers.
As there is no opportunity to connect the surplus power to the national grid under the project, about 160 MW of electricity is being wasted every year since 2016 in the name of deregulation.
Two street light installation projects have been approved by the financing agency without proper scrutiny, showing additional projected cost. Not only that, although the two projects are similar and approved at the same time, the difference in price of each street light installed under the two projects is about Tk1,01,000.
The study alleges that a former assistant of a minister directly influenced formulation and approval of proposal as well as selection of implementing agencies and contractors of the project where price of per unit street light has been fixed higher than the other. Even before completion of the project, almost half of the street lights have become inoperative.
Although it was claimed that all the seven projects had been monitored by officials of implementing local offices, no written report was found in any of the projects.
Only two projects have been monitored by the ministry's monitoring team, according to implementing authorities and local informants.
The study concludes that none of the seven projects have been evaluated by Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) and audited by the Office of the Auditor General and the Comptroller and Auditor General, while as per the Trust Law, the Bangladesh Auditor General and the Comptroller and Auditor General is supposed to inspect the projects every year and submit a copy of the report to the government and board.
However, Dr Iftekharuzzaman mentioned that although Bangladesh is the most vulnerable for, and affected by, climate change, the country is lagging behind to fulfill its commitment and target on climate mitigation.
"The government's investment priority on coal and other fossil fuel-based projects, instead of renewable energy, is a clear violation of its national and global commitments. The coal power generation projects currently being implemented by our government will emit 115 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year," he said.
"By doing so, Bangladesh is turning out to be a polluting nation, despite being vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Due to such reverse stance of the government, the country is about to lose the primary success and reputation it achieved globally, especially in environmental diplomacy.
"The government must move away from its present stance," he observed, adding it has to focus on renewable energy as per its commitment and that should be done as early as possible.
By 2020, Bangladesh would receive funding from both national and international sources to mitigate climate change worth Tk808.72 crore and Tk12,091.08 crore respectively.
Out of the projected Tk2,30,000 crore fund from domestic and foreign sources by 2030, only 6% (Tk12,699.60 crore) of the amount has been disbursed from international sources till 2019.
However, although the lion's share of mitigation funding in Bangladesh comes from international sources, only 67% of it has been spent on mitigation activities, says the report.
Not only that, out of the promised grant from industrialised countries as climate finance, only 15% has been disbursed so far.
TIB recommends that the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) must put combined diplomatic pressure on the developed countries to ensure mitigation funding based on the Paris Agreement.
The organisation put some other recommendations to ensure the accountability and transparency in the climate mitigation projects.
The report was presented by Razu Ahmad Masum, Assistant Manager of TIB and M Zakir Hossain Khan, Senior Programme Manager of Climate Finance Good Governance division of TIB.