The 3rd budget draft of the current fiscal year that has been sent to the Afghan parliament would maintain high salaries for over 11,000 posts in the Ministry of Public Health and other ministries, by utilizing the national technical assistance salary scale program, known as NTA.
The 3rd draft would only reduce 15 percent of the expenses of the NTA program, despite repeated calls for a review of the program by MPs and the government.
Sources told TOLOnews that permanent and contracted employees in government institutions are paid 14 types of salaries and the NTA scale is the one through which employees get the highest salaries.
The third draft allocates funds for 24,301 NTA scale salaries, most of which are for the ministries of public health, rural rehabilitation and development, urban development, agriculture, public works, and finance, as well as the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the National Statistics Authority, the Administrative Office of the President, and the Capital Region Development Authority.
Data provided by the Ministry of Finance shows that initially 199 billion Afs ($2.5 billion) was allocated for employee salaries and expenses, but another 12 billion Afs ($155 million) was added to it through the NTA salary scale in the third budget draft.
“This year, we will try to reduce the NTA total,” said Mir Afghan Safi, head of the finance and budget committee of the parliament.
“There is an issue when it comes to the NTA,” said Waheed Majroh, the acting minister of public health.
The acting minister of finance, Khalid Payenda, meanwhile spoke about so-called “ghost employees” within the NTA salary scale in some government institutions.
“Some ministries--that I don’t want to name--their structure is 600 individuals but they get NTA salaries for 2,000 individuals,” Payenda said.
“The salaries are high in some institutions. The institutions might know the reason, but there are over 160 employees under the NTA,” said Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj, the minister of labor and social affairs.
The highest salary under the NTA is 250,000 Afs ($3,200) per month.
The government has said that the NTA salary scale in public institutions is aimed at capacity building. But the head of a workers' union, Maroof Qaderi, said that such salaries are paid to "unprofessional" individuals and to close aides of government officials.
The NTA salary is paid along with the main salary of a government employee.
“Employee salaries should be based on the law,” Qaderi said.