Hakimi vows tougher stand on corruption
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi on Thursday said corruption was being committed in revenue collections through customs offices, but they would do away with the problem with full force for the sake of overcoming the budget deficit.
Hakimi, who arrived in southern Kandahar province, held a joint meeting with Governor Tooryalai Weesa and several provincial department heads.
Weesa said Kandahar had always been allocated a meagre budget, which had often been delayed for a long period, calling it their major issue.
He claimed Kandahar received its budget when the fiscal year was about to end, thus their failure to properly utilise the allocations. The governor urged the visiting minister to resolve the problems concerning the budget.
Kandahar Sectorial Head Hakimi also mentioned problems the province faced with regard to the budget.
He said work on key projects in the province had come to a halt since long and the contractors were yet to be made payments. The affected projects included Omar Jamia Mosque, a 16.5 km road from Kandahar City to Kandahar Airfield and the construction of a 350-bed hospital, he explained.
The official said the previous cabinet had authorised first grade provinces to plan and execute projects costing up to 40 million afghanis, but that decision had not been enforced.
He said the Kandahar Governor’s House, which is housed in ancient Ahmad Shah Baba Fort, needed renovation and half a million US dollars allocated for the purpose could not be released so far.
He said previously it had been decided that provinces could also participate in the budget’s preparation and on the basis of that decision, Kandahar planned to construct a big conference hall at a cost of one million US dollars, which did not reach the province and the project could not be initiated.
He also complained contractors had not been made payments for ration supplies to the police headquarters this year and two years ago, with the pending amounts totaling 192 million afghanis.
Provincial Public Health Director Dr. Abdul Qayyum Pukhla again mentioned the under-construction 350-bed hospital. He said 20 percent work on the $9.2 million project had been completed, but the rest suspended due to a lack of budget.
His colleague Shakiba Hashmi said if the issue of corruption in customs offices was resolved, it would help end the existing problems in the budget.
Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi said he chose Kandahar for his first visit after assuming office due to the province’s strategic importance. He believed resolving problems in Kandahar amounted to resolving problems in the entire country.
The minister asked the provincial government to send an authorized delegation to Kabul so as to resolve problems of Kandahar jointly with his ministry.
Hakimi admitted customs offices were rife with corruption, but they would fight the menace with full force, promising a series of reforms in the sector.
He said customs officials who had worked with sincerity would be rewarded and those having committed corruption would be held accountable and removed.
The minister said currently 45 percent of the budget was composed of revenues collected through customs departments and for the remaining budget, they stretched hands to foreign countries.
He said aid-giving countries had put limits on their assistance and their condition was transparency in revenue collections. He said all problems would be resolved gradually.
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