Parliament passes draft budget for 2013
KABUL (PAN): The Wolesi Jirga -- or lower house of parliament -- on Sunday passed the draft budget for 2013, but not before twice rejecting the accounts for what lawmakers called uneven fund distribution to provinces.
Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal had presented the draft -- adopted by the Meshrano Jirga (upper house) on Nov. 27 -- the to assembly that rejected it on Dec. 22 and later on Jan. 16 due to uneven fund distribution to provinces.
A high allocation for the Presidential Palace and setting aside of a meagre sum for job-generating projects were among the legislators' major objections to the proposed accounts.
Of the 130 members present, 128 voted in favour of the draft budget that carries 157.7 billion afghanis in development outlay and 196.3 billion afs in general spending for the current fiscal year.
Wolesi Jirga Budget and Finance Commission head Amir Khan Yar said all suggestions of MPs were met before they accorded approval to the budget.
The house also allowed the government to seek loans for funding seven infrastructure projects, including the Herat-Bamyan road, power dams and Kandahar-Spin Boldak as well as Nangarhar-Landikotal railroads.
In the budget, a $75 million bailout package has been proposed for the ailing Kabul Bank, but some members suggested the money should be diverted to badly-needed infrastructure projects.
Zakhilwal, addressing the session, said donor agencies were unwilling to finance infrastructure projects. As a result, the government has to obtain loans from foreign sources.
He explained the $75 would go to the Afghanistan Bank, which had cleared some of Kabul Bank’s loans. If the house did not approve the allocation, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) would stop assisting Afghanistan, he warned.
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