Afghan ministries can't manage direct aid: SIGAR
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan government is incapable of ensuring that direct US financial assistance to the country will be used without risk of misuse and corruption, an American watchdog said on Thursday.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) found and shared this inability with Afghan ministries. "USAID contractors assessed 16 Afghan ministries and found they are unable to manage and account for funds," the watchdog said.
A report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said USAID's own risk reviews of seven Afghan ministries concluded each ministry was unable to manage direct assistance.
The US has committed id="mce_marker".6 billion in direct aid to the government Kabul this year to fund 18 programmes across 10 ministries. However, USAID officials allegedly hid that information from Congress.
SIGAR John F. Sopko said: "In other words, USAID's view is that this information can be given to the Afghan government, but not to Congress or the American public. I simply cannot find any support for this proposition in the law or as a matter of good public policy."
All Afghan ministries assessed by USAID were unable to manage funds unless they implemented recommendations included in public financial management assessment reports, the report added.
The Ministry of Public Health is reportedly at risk of concealing vital monitoring and evaluation information and misappropriation of cash arising from payment of salaries.
Similarly, waste, fraud and abuse may go undetected at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, according to SIGAR, which said the ministry was at risk of paying higher prices for commodities and services to finance kickbacks and bribes.
"Frankly, USAID’s continued insistence that SIGAR withhold this information from Congress and the public may undermine the credibility of its assertions that it has appropriately mitigated the risks uncovered by the ministry assessments and its internal risk reviews," Sopko said.
The decision to continue with direct assistance apparently conflicts with a 2012 congressional requirement that funds should be made available only if no level of acceptable fraud is assumed.
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