Sunday, 9 October 2016

70% of the pledged $15.2 billion aid in Brussels will be expended through the National Budget of Afghanistan, but most of the Afghan ministries and institutions are unable to spend even half of their annual budgets

The assistance pledged in Brussels and the fear of its waste. While securing $15.2 billion in aid in the Brussels Conference is a good tidings for the economically and politically unstable Afghanistan, the past bitter experience raises concerns about the fate of these funds.
Many Afghans remain highly suspicious of corruption and theft
in the spending of the USD 16.2 billion aid pledged in Brussels
Given the way the international donor assistance was spent over the past decade and a half in Afghanistan, Afghans fear that these funds will further strengthen the corrupt people and strongmen other than helping Afghanistan move towards the path of self-sufficiency. According to Afghan government, 70 percent of the newly-pledged aid will be expended through the National Budget of the country, while most of the government institutions are unable to spend even half of their annual budgets. The likelihood of widespread corruption in public contracts, the low capacity in government, and the divided stance of Afghan leaders in anti-corruption are some of the major problems which may not expectedly help Afghanistan become economically self-reliant. Political and economic pundits state that while the new commitments in Brussels Conference revived the fading hopes of Afghans for the future, many people remain highly suspicious of corruption and theft in the spending of the aid money.
The management and oversight of expenditure of the pledged assistance in the Brussels Conference was a key issue, and a huge challenge for the National Unity Government which was under growing criticism in its fight against corruption, Muhebullah Sharif, an economic expert, told The Heart of Asia, who also claimed that "A number of government officials stand ready, and have made all the arrangements to embezzle the funds committed in the Brussels Conference.” 
Calling on President Ghani to prevent those people from achieving their malignant goals because that, if happened, would eliminate the relative optimism about the future, Sharif estimated that a part of the foreign aid would again be taken out of Afghanistan by foreigners under one name or another, but he stressed that the government should manage the situation, and spend the money as per the priorities of Afghanistan. In response to these concerns, the Presidential Palace asserts that the Afghan government will account for the aid money in the future, and that a positive step in the new assistance was that 70 percent of it will be spent through the National Budget. A deputy presidential spokesman, Dawa Khan Menapal, told The Heart of Asia that 70 percent of the new donor assistance promised in Brussels Conference would be used through a mechanism presented in Brussels by Afghanistan. According to him, the Afghan government, in close coordination with donors, would also set priorities for the remaining 30 percent of the aid. Meanwhile, some political analysts believe that the funds are not committed for the development of Afghanistan; it is a continuation of the West’s investment in its own war. Speaking at a conference two days ago, Dr. Farooq Azam, a political analyst, argued that the need of Afghans was peace which was not taken up in the Brussels Conference, and that the $15 billion in aid to Afghanistan was meant to further invest in the war imposed on Afghans.

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