No development budget given to Kandahar this year
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The southern province of Kandahar received no funds for development activities during the outgoing fiscal year, economy department officials said on Wednesday.
Kandahar Economy Director Mohammad Rahim Rahimi told Pajhwok Afghan News Kandahar had long been neglected with regard to development budget, but the issue had worsened recently and as a result, a large number of projects and development activities had been brought to a halt.
The official said the ongoing fiscal year was about to end and only the provincial education department had been delivered a meager amount for development activities while the rest had received nothing.
“The budget to the education department was given in the last quarter of the year. We have to quickly conclude contracts because if we do not do so the centre will claw back the unspent budget.”
Rahimi said he had no information about other provinces if they had been delivered their development budgets, but Kandahar had not been given its share.
He said the lack of budget had brought to a halt all development activities, citing the incomplete 16.5 kilometres road between Kandahar City and the airport and a large cold storage facility west of Kandahar City as two of many examples.
However, he said there was no problem in non-discretionary budget being utilised by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which he said operated normally.
The economy director said the major issue they faced was annual plans devised in accordance with people’s needs. He said the plans were sent to the central authorities to allocate funds for them, but unfortunately the plans were given no attention.
According to Afghanistan national policy, Rahimi said provinces were provided budgets and contracts were signed in provinces, but contracts were continued to be concluded in Kabul and the contracts then changed several hands and the result was substandard work quality.
The director said Kandahar’s economic situation was better than other provinces, but challenges and problems also existed.
He said 330 international and local NGOs had been working in Kandahar in the past and their number had reduced to 100. Of the 100 NGOs, only 45 were operational, he added.
“It was a huge blow to Kandahar’s economy because not only development activities dropped but thousands of people were rendered jobless.”
Due to hectic efforts by the provincial government, Rahimi said, some organisations and aid-giving agencies were encouraged to implement a number of projects that employed many people.
He said USAID had so far constructed cold storage facilities, planted new orchards and trained farmers in areas of agriculture and livestock.
In addition, he said, nearly a dozen small dams were constructed under the Kandahar Food Zone programme in Panjwai and Zheri districts. He said the dams resolved to the greater extent irrigation problem.
Rahimi said another dam “Eashq Abad dam” would be constructed soon in Maiwand district by the Counternarcotics Ministry.
Under the Food Zone programme, he said, a total of 150 projects had been designed at a cost of $27 million. Some of the projects were executed last year and the rest would be completed this year. He said the food zone programme had been extended for another year.
But he said the 16.5-km road between Kandahar City and the airport, the cold storage facility west of Kandahar City, a 350-bed hospital in Aino Mena township, a recreation park for women in Arghandab district by the municipality, the construction of the airport terminal and several other major projects could not be completed due to the lack of budget.
However, he said these initiatives were also insufficient to further improve Kandahar economy. He said until the private sector was not strengthened and extraction of minerals not started, the local economy could not be improved.
He said currently 86 factories were operational in the provincial industrial park, but they had reduced production after electricity was suspended to them. Previously USAID would provide electricity to the industrial park, he said, urging the government to resolve the electricity issue and remove other hurdles in the way of investment in order keep the existing factories running and encourage investors.
Rahimi said mines should be developed in Kandahar in order to create jobs as joblessness had reached the peak.
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