Lower house rejects proposed budget
KABUL (PAN): The Wolesi Jirga on Saturday rejected the draft budget for the new financial year that began on Friday, amid complaints that the approval process was always inordinately delayed, creating hurdles to optimum utilisation of funds.
Amir Khan Yar, the budget commission head, told lawmakers 10 relevant house panels discussed the proposed budget last week and called for throwing it out.
The parliamentary bodies noted an imbalance in provincial allocations, a huge amount earmarked for the presidential office and the absence of income-generating and job-creating projects.
Yar added: “The joint commission believes the budget for the president’s office be curtained and funds more diverted to public welfare schemes to resolve people’s problems.”
A public representative from Kabul, Shukria Barakzai said: “The budget for the Presidential Palace ($76 million) is more than the funds for the legislature and the judiciary ($64 million) put together.”
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said $36 million had been set aside for projects, whose details were unknown. The house should be briefed on the loans the country had to repay and $2 million allocated for the Wolesi Jirga TV project, he added.
Of the 133 members present during the session, 128 raised red cards to reject the draft budget.
Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal presented the draft budget to the Wolesi Jirga on Nov. 28, saying the government had proposed development spending worth 170 billion afghanis (about $3.20 billion) and a general budget of 196 billion afghanis.
He said 70 percent of the development budget was based on aid pledges while 30 percent would be financed through the government’s own revenue. Similarly, national revenue will account for 55 percent of the general budget, with the remaining 45 percent depending on foreign assistance.
The security sector has been allocated 39.6 percent of the budget, with government departments and natural resources getting 15.6 percent. Similarly, 15.1 percent of the proposed funds will go to the education sector and 9.6 percent to agriculture and rural development.
According to the draft budget, 3.8 percent will be spent on public health, 4.2 percent on good governance and rule of law, 2.8 percent on the economy and 1 percent on social security. The presidential discretionary fund has been projected at 8.3 percent.
An amount of $ 30 million has been earmarked for the balanced development of Kunar, Nuristan, Daikundi, Paktia, Paktika, Zabul, Uruzgan and Badghis provinces, as well as the welfare of the nomadic Kochi tribe.
The upper house approved the draft budget on Nov. 27, three weeks after it was presented to the Senate. Under Article 98 of the constitution, the government has to present to the lower during the last quarter of each financial year the budget for the next year. A precise account of the previous year budget will be presented to the assembly during the next six months.
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