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Reasons for budget rejection yet to be addressed: MPs

in Afghan Business

Reasons for budget rejection yet to be addressed: MPs

Members of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of Parliament, on Saturday said changes to the proposed annual budget did not address the basic reasons for its rejection.

On March 18, the assembly rejected the budget due to uneven allocations to provinces and a hefty $80 million bailout package for the ailing Kabul Bank.

The multi-million dollars package for Kabul Bank that was prepared without outlining the actual reasons for the fiscal aid came under fire from an overwhelming majority of lawmakers.

Giving greater spending powers to Cabinet ministers than lawmakers was cited as another reason. The legislators also opposed a 500 million afs fund for private banks that pay government employees’ salaries. 

In a bid to remove public representatives’ objections, the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday announced changes with a financial impact of 312 million afghanis ($6.2 million) to the budget.

Aziz Shams, the ministry spokesman, said the changes had been made in line with legislators’ demand and the resources available. In addition to an increase of 187 million afs to the general budget, some other changes have also been brought to the accounts.

The president’s discretionary funds worth 50 million afghanis were shifted to other areas. The 500 million afs allocation for the private banks that would pay salaries to government employees was slashed by 50 million afs.

An amount of 50 million afs was set aside for the construction of mosques, as much an amount for drug rehabilitation centres and 25 million afs for a gymnasium for people with disabilities.

During Saturday’s session, the public representatives said the finance ministry had made slight adjustments to the accounts, but their fundamental objections remained unaddressed.

Finance & Budget Commission head, Amir Khan Yar, said the amended version, approved by the Cabinet, accounts had been resent to the Wolesi Jirga. He added negotiations were still ongoing with the ministry.

Fawzia Kofi, a legislator from Badakhshan, also said: “The finance ministry is yet to deal with the reasons for budget rejection.”  She said the budget should be prepared keeping in views the national priorities and grading of provinces,

The MPs also objected to the allocations of 1.6 percent of the budget for the presidential office, its security and the National Security Council.

Some legislators suggested ministers of education and higher education be summoned to brief the house on the failure of more than 100,000 students in the recent university entrance test.  First Deputy Speaker Haji Zahir Qadeer said the ministers would be summoned to on Monday.

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