Criticizing the delay in the approval of the current fiscal year’s budget, a number of Kabul residents, most of them from low-income families, called on the government and the parliament to finalize the document and end the stand-off between the two branches of the state.
The fiscal year began on December 21, 2020, but so far, the budget draft has not been approved by the parliament. The parliament has rejected the budget draft twice and is reviewing a third reviewed version.
“The government needs to amend the budget and remove the shortcomings in the document to secure vote of confidence from the lawmakers,” said Abdul Hamid, a Kabul resident.
“They don’t demonstrate a sense of responsibility towards these issues,” a Kabul resident Naweed Nawa said.
The appeal comes days after the finance and budget commission of the parliament and the Ministry of Finance agreed on a slight increase in the salaries of teachers and lower-ranking government employees. That was one of the 19 demands of the lawmakers.
President Ashraf Ghani has also suggested more savings to be considered in the budget plan and reduction in government’s ordinary budget to allocate more funds to salaries of government employees.
“Unnecessary spending must stop,” Ghani said at an event in Kabul on Thursday. “All our institutions need to be active as we are a poor country.”
Some MPs said they have only agreed with the government on how to increase the salaries of lower-ranking government employees and teachers.
MPs argue that there are still at least 18 disputed points in the budget that need to be addressed by the government to have more effective and inclusive budget plan.
“There are many items that need to be debated separately in order to help all disputed issues sorted out completely,’ said Zalmay Noori, member of the finance and budget committee of the House.
“We hope that the rest of the disputed issues are resolved soon so that we can debate the budget in the general session of the House,” said MP Fatima Nazari.
The issue of 17 billion Afs loans in the budget plan is of the main disputed points in the budget.
“We should know the details of the loans to see whether we spend the money on production projects or devaluation issues,” said Abdul Rauf Inami, member of the parliament’s finance and budget committee.
“From the legal perspective, the loans should be brought for discussions separately to the House for approval,” said MP Belqis Roshan.
Officials of Ministry of Finance and MPs are expected to resume their discussions on the disputed points on Saturday.