The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved 10 projects worth Tk 7,447.07 crore including the Digital Government and Economy (EDGE) project, to ensure its flourishment in Bangladesh.
The approval came from the Ecnec meeting held on Tuesday with its chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The premier joined the meeting virtually from her official residence in Ganabhaban while ministers, state ministers, planning commission members and secretaries concerned attended it from the NEC Conference Room in the city's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said, a total of 10 projects were approved involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 7447.07 crore.
"Of the total project cost, Tk 3,682.28 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh’s portion and Tk 3,610.98 crore from foreign sources while the rest from the projects own sources," he said.
Of the approved 10 projects, five are new while five are revised projects. The planning minister said that Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division will implement the EDGE project by December 2026. Out of the total estimated cost of Tk 2,541.64 crore for the EDGE project, the government will provide Tk 34.59 crore while the rest Tk 2,507.05 crore will come from the IDA of the World Bank.
The EDGE project will ensure an integrated, cloud-computing digital platform for all government agencies and improve cyber-security, which will result in $200 million saving in the public sector's IT investments.
Further, it will build resiliency during future crises, whereby the platform will enable the government to operate virtually and deliver critical public services to citizens and businesses.
The project will create 100,000 jobs, with a special focus on women, train 100,000 youths in digital and disruptive technologies and establish a digital leadership academy and centers of excellence. It will also help raise the revenues of IT firms by $300 million and promote local IT firms in international markets.
To reduce vulnerabilities from the pandemic and prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the project will help digitalize small and medium enterprises and strategic industries.
Answering a question, Planning Commission member Nasima Begum said that there are some 4,000 IT and software companies in the country and they exported IT materials and software worth $1 billion in the last fiscal year.
She said that this EDGE project would expedite the materialization of "Digital Bangladesh" in the country adding that around Tk 514 crore has been kept as block allocation in this project for facing the post COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Meanwhile, the day's ECNEC meeting also approved a Tk 1,538.10 crore project to ensure integrated infrastructural development of Cumilla City Corporation for rendering better service delivery and civic facilities to the city dwellers.
The project titled "Integrated infrastructural development of Cumilla City Corporation" will be implemented at an estimated cost of Tk 1,538.10 crore.
The Cumilla City Corporation under the Local Government Division will implement the project by December 2024.
Out of the total project cost, Tk 1,384.29 crore will come from the Government of Bangladesh portion while the rest Tk153.81 crore from the City Corporation's own fund.
The project aims to increase the various civic facilities of the city corporation.
Once the project is implemented, it would be possible to ease the traffic congestion and thus develop an improved communication system through construction of new roads, drains and footpaths in the Cumilla city.
The main project operations include construction of two 21,360 square-meter modern city corporation buildings having 15-storey foundation, upward extension of regional office, construction of 40,473.97 square meter Mostafapur Truck Terminal and 8,194.98 square meter Chawkbazar Bus Terminal, 10 acres of land acquisition and land development, beautification and development of Old Gomti River, DC Pond and Rajbari Pond, development of 146 graveyards and crematory grounds, construction of seven public toilets, construction of 305.14 kilometer roads, 203.09 kilometer drains and 13.83 kilometer footpaths.
The other projects approved in the meeting are Improvement of navigability of River route from Mongla Port-Chandpur-Mawa-Goalondo-Pakshi, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 334 crore, Establishment of Sports Schools at Chattogram and Rajshahi under BKSP, 3rd revised with an additional cost of Tk 31.86 crore, Establishment of burn and plastic surgery units at five medical college hospitals (Sylhet, Barishal, Rangpur,
Rajshahi and Faridpur) at Tk 456.09 crore, Establishment of 563 model mosques and Islamic centers at each district and upazila, 2nd revised with an additional cost of Tk 713 crore, Development of ICT infrastructures, Human Resources and technology skills of Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat, 3rd revised with an additional cost of Tk 13.84 crore, Rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructures with Tk 322.99 crore, Climate Smart Agriculture and Water Management (CSAWMP) (BWDB part) with Tk 1,182.55 crore and Rural infrastructure development of greater Noakhali district, 3rd phase, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 313 crore.