The Minister of Economy Mustafa Mastor said Saturday that the lack of available money–“physical money” disbursed from the Ministry of Finance, not just what is on the books-- has largely contributed to the lack of expenditure of the ministries’ annual budgets, and watchdog groups say that the unspent money gets allocated to slush funds where there is no accountability, one of which is run by the Ministry of Finance.
As Mastor explains it: Regardless of their budget on paper, each of the government ministries can only spend what gets disbursed to them by the Ministry of Finance, and there are often delays. The withholding of these funds, not on paper but in actual disbursement, causes budgets to remain unspent.
“Usually, the lack of available money has been one of the problems, but I hope that this problem won't exist this year at the Ministry of Finance,”Mastor said.
Oversight agencies say that when government institutions are prevented from spending their budgets during the year on legitimate expenses, the leftover funds are placed in catch-all, non-specific funds, which lack transparency and accountability.
“Both in the past year, and with this year’s budgets, we had a lot of cases where the budgets are transferred to an emergency fund and also a similar Ministry of Finance fund, and these are the ones that have not provided the necessary transparency," said Nasir Temori, a researcher from Integrity Watch Afghanistan said.
This report comes just two days after the US State Department issued a statement citing “identified Afghan government corruption.”
The US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced on Thursday that the US will be withholding funds from Afghanistan because of a lack of transparency and accountability. Funding for an energy infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan will continue, but not with the original $100 million earmarked, and not through the usual channels of disbursement. Another $60 million in planned assistance is now off the table. And the Afghan Monitoring and Evaluation Committee would lose all US funding at the end of the calendar year.
Alleged Election Corruption
The US Department of State, in addition to holding Afghan institutions and leaders accountable for corruption in mismanagement of finances, has also issued a statement insisting that all efforts are made to ensure a transparent and credible election.
“The lower the level of monitoring for the election process, the higher the level of fraud in different parts of Afghanistan,” said the spokesman for Free And Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, Samir Rasa.
In the meantime, the use of government resources for election campaigns is a matter of concern. According to the Electoral Complaints Commission, the majority of these complaints are leveled at the leaders of the National Unity Government.
Footage taken by a mobile phone and provided to TOLOnews shows that Ghani’s campaign team has blocked one of the Wazir Akbar Khan area roads and has named it "Election road".
“No one has the right--no campaign has the right-- to block the road; this is a violation. When there is a complaint, whoever is in trouble--because of election officials, or observers, political parties--the people of Afghanistan can file a complaint and we will address their complaints according to the law,” said Qutbuddin Roidar, a member of the Independent Electoral Complaint Commission.
On the other hand, Ghani’s campaign team said that only some security measures have been taken on this road, and the team asks the international community to assist Kabul in holding a transparent election.
“Non-transparent elections bring Afghanistan into crisis. "Transparency is also one of our priorities, and in addition to our domestic partners, we also ask our global partners to share their technical cooperation with us on," Jawed Fisal, a spokesman for the Ghani’s team.
The presidential election will be held next Saturday on September 28. Ensuring the security and transparency of the elections is one of the biggest tests of the Afghan government and its allies.