Jihad needed against corruption, says president
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said his government had a strong intention to fight corruption and that a national jihad, particularly ulema’s role, was needed to eliminate the unwanted phenomenon.
People and ulema were not corrupt, only a handful of officials and smugglers had damaged the country’s reputation, he said.
A big lie of militants, who imposed war on the Afghans in the name of Mullah Omar, had been exposed, he said, referring to keeping secret Omar’s death since 2013. Their violence delayed reforms, but no one could snatch away the opportunity of reforms when ulema were by the Presidential Palace side, Ghani said.
Linking reduction in government’s revenue to administrative corruption, he said the phenomenon had reached the peak in the past, but comprehensive measures were taken in key institutions including the executive and judiciary to clean them of graft.
He said in the first step the government would banish corruption from key government departments including the Cabinet, independent and judiciary organs, hoping this would be done successfully. The president warned government officials if found guilty of corruption would be brought to justice.
Ghani said the Afghan people paid billions of dollars every year as bribes for resolving their issues, a practice that was against Islam and all human ethics and must be put to an end.
“A national jihad to fight corruption is needed and we thank ulema for being attentive to this issue and we want they play an important role to motivate our Muslim nation towards this holy war,” he said.
Ghani said the government would support religious scholars in their efforts to eliminate corruption because it was the government’s main agenda. “It is natural fighting this menace will take a long time.”
The president said fraud in contracts, grabbing public and private lands and drug smuggling were other forms of corruption.
He said government contracts were main source of corruption as even a single project could not be implemented on time, but the current government had taken measures this regard.
Ghani said 350 projects had been assessed during the past 10 months. Of 295 projects referred to the National Procurement Commission, 252 had been approved and the rest rejected, he said.
He said 26 companies were rejected by the procurement commission due to their fake documents. The value of these companies stood at 51 billion afghanis while 8.5 billion were saved, he added.
From now on, 15 percent of government contracts should be about domestic products, he said, adding the Ministry of Defence had used $50 million only to import meat from abroad.
He said unplanned houses were another problem because 65 percent houses in Kabul had no legal documents. Major actions would be taken to legalise residential buildings of Kabul residents over the next few weeks, he said, assuring that the land grab issue would be addressed few years.
He called narcotics another major factor fueling corruption and asked ulema to campaign against it.
Ghani also mentioned the Kabul Bank scandal and said more than $900 million of people were robbed by a small group of individuals whose cases had been completed and the government had started recovering the looted money.
He said his government had proved that it had a strong intention to crackdown on large-scale corruption and deeply monitor all banks about any issue.
Some programmes about reforms in banking sector have been prepared and their implementation would enable Afghanistan to have a well-managed banking system.
Afghanistan Integrity Watch executive chief Sayed Akram Afzali said the aim of the conference was to motivate ulema, people and civil society activists not to calm down against corruption.
He praised the president’s plans about eliminating corruption and said Ghani should remain committed to narrowing the gap between ulema and the Presidential Palace for the sake of overcoming the current challenges.
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