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Won’t approve budget until Ghoris’ demands met: MPs

Won’t approve budget until Ghoris’ demands met: MPs

Nov 22, 2017 - 18:27

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The next year’s draft budget with a total outlay of 361 billion afghanis was tabled at the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon or lower house of the Parliament for approval on Wednesday.

However, some lawmakers said they would not approve the budget until the demands of people from western Ghor province were responded to.

They would not approve the draft budget until a 10 percent tax on telephone users was cancelled.

The draft budget for 1397 fiscal year was approved by the Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon or Senate with some suggestions on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi told today’s Wolesi Jirga meeting that lawmakers’ suggestions had been considered in the budget draft. An additional three billion afghanis had been added to the accounts based on lawmakers’ suggestions.

According to the finance minister, 267.2 billion afghanis has been set aside for general expenses and more than 93.7 billion afghanis for development activities for the next fiscal year starting from December 22. The budget for the previous fiscal year was 461 billion afghanis.

Hakimi said the next year’s budget was prepared keeping in view the government’s structure, balance between expenses and revenue, allocations based on money effectiveness, stability of long-term and short-term expenditures, resources, promises of donors and domestic revenue.

He said 167 billion afghanis or 47 percent of the whole budget would be  met from domestic revenue and the rest would be provided by donors.

Most of the budget for next year would be spent on security, educationinfo-icon, infrastructure, agricultureinfo-icon and rural rehabilitation and development, he said without giving details.

Hakimi did not provide information about projects planned for next year under the budget, but said 21 water dams, building industrial parks, rural roads and other projects were among the projects to be carried out next year.

 “In the next fiscal year, all budgetary units would be assessed for their spending after the first five months, if any of them was unable to spend their budget, their allocations would go to other departments,” he said.

Hakimi said 42 percent of the development budget of the current year had been spent so far and the percentage would increase until the end of the year.

One month remains in the new fiscal year to begin. Seven ministers who spent less development budget last year were disqualified by the Wolesi Jirga.

Hakimi said the absence of detailed plans, low capacity of procurement sections, lack of a monitoring system, lack of punishment and award culture, administrative corruption and interference of powerful individuals were main problems in budget spending.

Criticism on the draft budget

Ghulam Farooq, a lawmaker from western Herat province, said that 130 members of the lower house were supporting Ghorinfo-icon people’s demands.

He said 130 lawmakers expressed their support to Ghor people in a written form and they emphasized on not approving the draft budget until the demands of Ghor people were met.

People from Ghor province have been protesting over the past 12 days, demanding uniform development across the country and roads, electricity, healthcare, water and security in Ghor.

Qais Hassan, a lawmaker from Kabul, said the Wolesi Jirga had already rejected the ten percent tax on mobile phone users when the government imposed it.

He said the collection of the 10 percent tax should be reviewed because there was no transparent or real-time system for this process.

First deputy speaker Hamayon Hamayon tasked the house finance and budget commission with reviewing the draft budget and inviting Finance Ministry officials to a meeting to answer questions from lawmakers.

He also said lawmakers would not approve the draft budget until demands of the nation and Ghor people were answered.


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