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    Ministers satisfy MPs on budget, civilian deaths

    KABUL (PAN): Two of President Hamid Karzai’s key Cabinet colleagues, summoned by the Wolesi Jirga to answer questions from lawmakers, were able to satisfy the lower house, an official said on Saturday.  

    Last week, the MPs unanimously decided to summon Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal and Interior Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi for answering their queries regarding last year’s budget and civilian casualties.

    Zakhelwal was called to the house for making “irresponsible changes” in the budget and spending of less than 40 percent of development funds by several ministries. Some other ministries alleged the finance minister of delaying the transfer of the development budged.

    Mohammadi was grilled over mounting civilian casualties and sending local policemen to areas where their deployment was not needed, second deputy speaker, Naimatullah Ghafari, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    Both responded to questions from legislators in a convincing manner. Zakhelwal denied allegations against him as groundless.  He said based on the budgetary policy, his ministry was authorised to bring changes to budgetary allocations.  

    He said 12billion afghanis had been added to last year’s development budget, whose initial volume was 116b afs. The minister said 110b afs of the funds had been spent so far. He sought credit from lawmakers for saving the rest of the budget.  

    But Amir Khan Yar, the Wolesi Jirga Financial Commission chief, accused the minister of allocating extra budget for Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces.

    Ghafari said one reasons behind summoning the interior minister was an operation by French troops that claimed the lives of eight children in central Kapisa province.

    On the other hand, Mohammadi claimed there had been a remarkable reduction in civilian casualties since appointment as interior minister. He said he had met French troops and NATO officials on the issue.

    While acknowledging the casualties, the French troops had apologised for the incident, Mohammadi told legislators.

    On deployment of the local police force, he said they had not created any problem and were helping the national police in maintaining peace in different parts of the country.

    Most of the MPs expressed their satisfaction with answers from the ministers. Article 92 of the Constitution says: “The assembly, on a proposal from 20 percent of its members, shall make inquiries from each minister.”

    If the explanations given are unsatisfactory, the house will consider a no- confidence vote, which has to be approved by a majority of members.