Upcoming budget presented before Wolesi Jirga
KABUL (PAN): Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal on Saturday presented before the Wolesi Jirga the draft budget for the upcoming Afghan fiscal year, beginning from December 22, saying much of the amounts had been set aside for security and development purposes.
The Meshrano Jirga or upper house has approved the draft budget with some recommendations, after criticising the draft for what they said lack of balance in allocation of funds among provinces.
Zakhilwal said 275 billion afghanis ($4.82 billion) would go to general budget and 168 billion afs to development spending, saying the accounts had been proposed based on Afghanistan’s priorities for the next fiscal year.
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.
Zakhilwal 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.
At today’s lower house session, Speaker Abul Rauf Ibrahimi asked the house commissions concerned to be fast in concluding debates on the draft budget, which he said should be approved and sent back to the government for execution as soon as possible.
But some lawmakers insisted balance had not been maintained in allocating funds among provinces, saying much the funds were leftover money from the previous years.
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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