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    First-ever 9 months budget with $4.872b outlay prepared

    KABUL (PAN): The finance ministry has prepared the first-ever nine months budget for the next fiscal beginning this month, with a total volume of 241.6 billion afghanis ($4.872b), indicating an eight percent increase over last year, officials said on Tuesday.

    In a statement from the Presidential Palace, Minister of Finance Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said the general budget for the next nine months was worth 134.2b afs, while 107.4b afs had been set aside for development spending. 

    The ministry has decided that Afghanistan's fiscal year would start from January instead of March to avoid non-execution of development projects due to delays in approval of the annual budget. The new Afghan year starts from March 21.

    Officials say the start of the fiscal year in the first month of the winter is beneficial, because most of development activities slow down due to harsh weather conditions that also undermine the process of preparing and approving budgetary allocations.  

    The statement quoted Zakhilwal as projecting the country's own revenue during the next nine months at 95bafs, with 133.5b afs coming from international aid and 3.67b afs acquired in loans.   

    Despite the country's own revenue and international assistance, there was a 9.385b afs shortfall in the next year's development budget, Zakhilwal explained.  

    President Karzai has ordered the ministry to allocate equal funds to the provinces, increase the budget for the less develop areas and assign reasons for increased spending in the security sector.

    The ministry was also directed to give details for a lack of budgetary allocations for water and power projects, such as Kajaki and Dahla dams. He also sought information about National Solidarity Programme schemes, funded by donor agencies and the global fraternity.  

    Zakhilwal and other ministers will attend a meeting, to be chaired by President Karzai, later in the day on next year's budget.

    mrh/mud