Allocations to discretionary code funds were one of the 19 issues raised by the Afghan parliament when it rejected the first two drafts of the budget for the current fiscal year, with lawmakers saying they see unnecessary allocations as enabling corruption in some cases.
Funding in the third budget draft has been allocated for 18 discretionary codes within the ordinary budget and 11 discretionary codes within the development budget. Lawmakers have criticized five codes in the national budget and a number of codes in the development budget. Despite the scrutiny, the 3rd draft includes an allocation of an additional 15 billion Afs ($194 million) for Code 25, which is for house rent and car purchases.
Meanwhile, there is a 1.5 billion Afs ($19 million) reduction in Code 22, which is for equipment purchase and service, in the third draft.
Lawmakers said they are concerned about the use of the funds for Code 22 and 25 because the government is not sharing details with them.
“Daily expenses, excluding salaries, reconstructions, painting, water supply, plumbing, and electric power are part of Code 22,” said Sediq Ahmad Osmani, a member of the finance and budget committee of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of Parliament.
According to lawmakers, the changes in the allocations for discretionary funds are not major, but the way they have been allocated has raised suspicions. For example, the lawmakers questioned the allocation of over 1 billion Afs ($13 million) for paying the electricity bills debts for government institutions from discretionary funds.
According to the lawmakers, paying electricity bills for government institutions is part of their budget, and so the allocation of funds for electricity in the discretionary funds is questionable.
“The debt to the Breshna company was 1.4 billion Afs ($18 million). They reduced it to 300 million Afs ($3.8 million). We are talking about it. The expenses of water and power have been considered in Code 22, but why power consumption?” asked Azim Kebarzani, member of the finance and budget committee of the parliament.
“The budget has been with the commission for the last three days and we are working on it. It is not clear whether it will be approved,” said Qamar Bano, a member of the committee.
Meanwhile, MPs said their recent meetings with officials of the Ministry of Finance on the third draft of the budget have made no progress.
“It is a way of killing time, I guess. We will see what decision the parliament makes,” said Sayed Naseer Ahmad, head of the budget department of the Ministry of Finance.
Some lawmakers said considering the predicted 37 billion Afs ($478 million) deficit in the third budget draft, the government should review its allocations in the regular budget.