No balance in funds to provinces: Senators
The upper house of Parliament had summoned the finance minister, Omar Zakhilwal, to brief Senators on the budget for the new Afghan year, which starts on March 21.
"No fundamental development plan, which can create jobs and help people get rid of poverty, has been included in the draft," head of the Senate's Finance and Budget Commission, Abdul Wahab Irfan, told the minister.
Zakhilwal presented the new draft budget to the upper house late last month. With a total expenditure of of 150 billion afghanis ($3.3 billion), the draft budget proposes 65.7 million afghanis for development activities.
Provincial council members have been given no pay increase in the new budget, according to Irfan. Each member receives 15,000 afghanis a month while a Senator's monthly salary is 90,000 afghanis.
Compared to the previous year, there is a 41 percent decrease in the new development budget, Irfan said, blaming the decline on the "inefficiency of ministries in utilising their allocations for the outgoing year”.
The Senator asked ministries to improve their performance.
But the finance minister said that funds had been allocated to provinces on priority basis. He said that increased funds were allotted to Bamyan for the construction of the Bamyan-Herat highway and for a railway track to Balkh province.
Zakhilwal said that government resources should be taken into account before floating suggestions for changes in the budget.
"The budget includes $325 million as discretionary funds which cannot be distributed among provinces," the minister said.
Zakhilwal said a lack of security, delay in provision of funds by donors and low capacity of departments hampered the utilisation of budget.
A few days ago, Nangarhar governor Gul Agha Sherzai complained that his province had been given inadequate funding.
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