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    Provincial demands ignored in budget: Senators

    KABUL (PAN): Demands and needs of provinces were not considered in development budget for the current fiscal, members of the Meshrano Jirga, or upper house, complained on Tuesday.

    But Minister of Finance Hazrat Omer Zakhelwal, who was summoned to the house to brief senators on the budget, insisted basic priorities had been part of the annual accounts.

    One budget could not fulfill all requirements of the country, the minister said, adding they were doing their bit to ensure even-handed development of all provinces.

    However, some lawmakers believed provinces like Farah, Daikundi, Ghor and Nuristan that needed development on a fast-track basis should have been given more funds.

    National Economic Commission head Abdul Wahab Irfan alleged basic needs had been paid little attention in the budget, as nothing had been set aside for farmers.

    According to Senator Gul Ahmad Azami, proposals of remote provinces have been ignored.

    The budget was unacceptable to them, because roads and health centers in Nuristan required greater attention, said Senator Dawood Ihsas.

    Some projects identified in the budget were not important, he said, stressing the need for basic schemes in Zabul province, instead of constructing a sports stadium there.

    Some members als demanded an increase in budgets for the ministries of defence and education.

    Responding to the demands, Zakhelwal said requests from all ministries and provinces had given proper consideration. Each province had many demands and it was impossible to allocate funds for all those in a single budget, he added.

    They had allocated extra funds of $0.5 million (24.6 million afs) to less developed provinces last year and $5million this year, the minister explained. Sufficient funds had been allocated for mining, agriculture, trade and construction of railtracks in the budget, he reiterated.

    The Ministry of Finance says the development budget for 2012-13 is 110 billion afs and the general budget 137 billion afs.