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Ministries dragging their feet over tapping blue economy

28 Jul,2018

Dhaka, BdChronicle:

The government's move to tap the blue economy has hardly made any progress over the past three years mainly due to dilly-dallying attitude of the ministries concerned, officials said.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) at a recent review meeting expressed dissatisfaction over the slow implementation of the decisions taken to explore marine resources by different ministries or divisions, they added.

Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman chaired the meeting.

The PMO asked 17 ministries and 12 divisions concerned to submit an interim report on development of the blue economy by July 31, 2018. It also sought progress report on the implementation of the decisions, according to the PMO.

At the meeting, the principal secretary said it was unfortunate that the decisions taken in 2014 on the blue economy remained unimplemented even in 2018.

He also asked the authorities to take various steps such as fast-track implementation plan, monitoring and evaluation plan and prioritising the decisions.

The first meeting on blue economy was held in August 2014 to take up central strategic and action plans for the ministries, divisions and agencies concerned.

A 25-member 'Coordination Committee on Sea Resources Exploration and Fair Management' headed by Principal Secretary to the PMO was formed on August 20 in 2014. Some 60 decisions were taken in different meetings, but most of them were not implemented to date.

The committee, comprising senior secretary, secretaries and top executives of different ministries and organisations, was supposed to sit in every three months, prepare strategies and monitor implementation of the decisions on the issue.

On Tuesday, a senior official at PMO expressed dismay at the slow progress in harnessing the blue economy.

The rate of implementing the decisions was much below the expected level. For this, the PMO in the review meeting asked the ministries and departments concerned to enhance the implementation rate in future, a high official said.

The ministries, divisions and agencies did not submit the implementation progress report accordingly. For this, it was not possible to evaluate the implementation progress of the initiative. Energy and Mineral Resources Division, the lead division, was not working at expected level, he said.

Some 60 decisions on the blue economy were taken, but most of them were not implemented. Only few decisions had been implemented, he mentioned.

The government in January 2017 set up a Blue Economy Cell (BEC) under Energy and Mineral Resources Division for exploration, conservation, and sustainable collection and management of natural and mineral resources in the Bangladesh territory of the Bay of Bengal.

The BEC could not advance as per the government plan due to lack of proper coordination among the implementing ministries, divisions and agencies. It's very difficult to work without coordination because it is a big task, the official said.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry on Thursday recommended submitting a report on the draft of Blue Economy Authority Act within a month.

The Bangladesh Navy is working for fishing in deep areas and marine tourism to ensure security of sea resources, according to a source in the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.

Three more ports are being set up for export-import activities in future. Skilled human resources are being developed through five marine institutes under the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment.

Besides, the industries ministry has taken initiative to set up two ship recycling factories in Barguna and Patuakhali.

When contacted, acting in-charge of BEC Ashok Kumar Debnath said, "We will coordinate the activities from now. Earlier, the progress of the blue economy was slow due to lack of coordination among ministries/divisions concerned."

Some 29 ministries/divisions concerned are involved with the blue economy. They will submit work plans to the PMO by July 31.

The PMO will now coordinate the activities of the blue economy. Currently, the cell is under Energy Division, he said, adding that it cannot coordinate the ministries or divisions according to the country's rules of business.

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