64pc of general budget set aside for security
KABUL (PAN): The Wolesi Jirga’s Finance Commission on Wednesday said 39 percent of next year’s government-controlled development budget was discretionary, with 64 percent of general funds set aside for the security sector.
On December 4, the Meshrano Jirga -- or upper house -- approved the draft budget with some recommendations. Some senators criticised the draft for what they called imbalanced allocations of funds to provinces.
Amir Khan Yar, the Finance Commission chief, said the draft budget was placed today before the Wolesi Jirga for debate and approval. He put at 275 billion afghanis ($4.82 billion) the general budget and at 168 billion afs the development spending.
He added 23 billion afs of the development budget was discretionary, funds in hand the government’s kitty, 67 billion afs non-discretionary and 78 billion afs left over from previous years.
Yar explained 36 percent of the development funds would be spent on basic infrastructure projects, 13 percent on education, 29 percent on health, 21 percent on agriculture and rural development, with the rest going to other schemes.
The general budget for the next fiscal, beginning from Dec. 22, includes a domestic component of 117 billion afghanis and the rest will be provided by international donors, according to the commission head, who said 64 percent of the funds would be consumed by the security sector.
He said 13 percent had been allocated for precautionary codes (emergency situations), one percent each to the economy, agriculture, health and basic projects, as well as 5 percent for good governance.
In recent years, he said, Afghanistan received loans from World Bank (WB) nine times, Asian Development Bank (ADB) 14 times, once from IMF, Islamic Development Bank (IDB) four times and Saudi Arabia Monitory Agency two times.
The total loans amounted to 2 billion afghanis, he said, adding Afghanistan was paying the interest every year but he did not offer details.
Shukria Barakzai, an MP from Kabul, said Afghanistan should return the loans in time to avoid paying additional interest. “The interest on loans will surge considerably if we don’t return them in time.”
Her colleague from Badakhshan province, Fauzia Kofi, lamented while the lion’s share of the budget had been earmarked for security, a meagre amount had been set aside for governance.
“We have allocated 5 percent of the budget for governance and 64 percent for security. If we don’t have good governance, good security will continue to elude us,” she remarked.
Wolesi Jirga Speaker Abdur Rauf Ibrahimi said the proposed budget should be thoroughly discussed by the commissions concerned and members’ consent obtained.
While presenting the draft to the lower house on Dec. 7, Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal had said the government had an amount of 286 billion afghanis in its kitty to finance the upcoming budget. Eighty percent of development funds and 43 percent of the general spending currently come from foreign assistance.
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.
Under Article 98 of the constitution, the government has to send its annual budget and development programme along with Senate’s recommendations to the lower house for endorsement. With the president’s consent, the assembly’s decision is enforced.
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