Senators reject upcoming budget as biased
KABUL (PAN): Some Meshrano Jirga members on Monday strongly criticised the upcoming budget’s draft authored by the Ministry of Finance, saying balance had not been maintained in fund allocations among provinces.
Finance Minister Dr. Hazrat Omar, while presenting the budget draft before the upper house on November 3, said job opportunities were envisaged for 300,000 people in next year’s budget, much which has been devoted to security and development.
He projected next year’s general budget at 275 billion afs ($4.82 billion) and development spending at 168 billion afs, saying the accounts had been proposed based on Afghanistan’s priorities for the next fiscal year -- beginning from December 22.
So far the government has amount of 286 billion afghanis in its kitty to finance the upcoming budget, with 80 percent of development funds and 43 percent of the general spending currently coming from foreign assistance.
Muheeuddin Hamdard, who heads the Senate Financial and Economic Affairs committee, told the session the general budget had been increased by 33 percent and development budget by 19 percent, compared to last year’s figures.
He said foreigners have declined assistance for development projects due to the incompetency of Afghan officials, who have been failing each year to spend most of funds.
Hamdard said projects including roads, dams, airports, schools, health centres and others proposed in the budget would cover 668,000 people on jobs.
He said 42.3 percent of the general budget had been set aside for security affairs, 14.3 percent for basic infrastructure development projects, 12.9pc for education, 8.3pc for agriculture and rural development, 4.2 percent for health and 4.1 for governance.
Hamdard said it was a matter of concern that hundred percent development budget and 56 percent general budget continued to be dependent on foreign assistance.
A lawmaker from southern Zabul province, Mohammad Daud Hassas, called the budget as based on recommendations, saying no balance had been maintained in allocating funds to provinces.
He claimed new development projects had been proposed in the document for some provinces, where those projects were not required, while other provinces which needed development schemes had been ignored.
Nearly 1.5 million Afghans were addicted to drugs, but no funds had been considered for their rehabilitation in the budget, Hamdard said.
First deputy speaker Mohammad Alam Ezedyar said the house had to complete debating the budget in 15 days under the law, but the task could not be accomplished due a week long recess.
He asked lawmakers to present their views and recommendations to the house finance and budgetary commission so that the house delivers a decision on the draft budget.
Zakhilwal had said next year’s budget had a greater volume to fund the rising numbers of teachers and security forces, as well as assistance to relatives of martyrs and the disabled.
He linked the failure to utilise all development funds to insecurity, a delay in budget approval by the parliament and government departments’ inability to draw up their work plans in time.
With a six percent deficit, the new budget proposes 300,000 jobs -- something that the minister believed would have a positive impact on people’s lives.
The current year’s revenue target was lowered from 123 billion afs to 114 billion afs because of sluggish economic activity. Zakhilwal said 105 billion afs had been collected in revenue so far.
Under Article 98 of the constitution, the government has to send its annual budget and development programme along with Senate’s recommendations to the Wolesi Jirga for endorsement. With the president’s consent, the assembly’s decision is enforced.
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