While the Afghan government insists on spending foreign funds it receives from the international donors through the government’s budget, there are serious concerns among experts about the government’s capacity to invest the funds effectively and transparently in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts warned that the government should avoid an approach that could deter donors from their commitments to Afghanistan during the pandemic.
Donor nations and a number of international NGOs have pledged $240 million in aid to Afghanistan for a response to the coronavirus.
“I don’t think that this will be acceptable for the international community---two weeks ago, the World Bank announced $20 million in aid to Afghanistan, but so far the World Bank has not allowed the allocation of the funds, because the government doesn't have a mechanism for it,” said Qais Hassan, a former member of parliament.
According to experts, in the view of current circumstances, the Afghan government, like other NGOs, does not have the capacity to ensure the timely and effective management and investment of the funds.
Experts also said that there are serious questions about the government's ability to ensure the transparency of the aid's spending.
“They (donors) should give the funds to the Afghan government in exchange for accountability, if they (donors) see any weakness, then it is an issue that needs to be debated,” said Jamal Naser Usoli, a political commentator.
But the Presidential Palace insists that the coronavirus task force was already operating under the chairmanship of First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, which is undertaking efforts for improved management and spending.
“First Vice President Amrullah Saleh is working hard for better coordination between the ministries and better management of government’s affairs so that we are able to fight the virus in the right way,” said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.
“Mr. Saleh is in contact with the US, Germany and some other countries regarding this issue, so we are coordinating with him in this respect, we are also sharing the government’s plan to fight the coronavirus with other countries,” said Rezwan Murad, the head of media and public affairs department of the Office of the First Vice President.
Over the past two decades, the spending of foreign funds through the government’s budget has been a disputed issue between the Afghan government and international donors.
Donors have said that some of the foreign funds should be spent through NGOs.