Findings by TOLOnews indicate that the Operation and Support Office of the President for National Development (OSOPND) has been awarded more than 800 projects over the past two years but the authority has provided scant or conflicting information to the media, which had requested information regarding these projects.
Officials of the authority said their activities encompass 57 projects and so far they have invested Afs10 billion ($128 million) into current development initiatives.
According to information provided by the OSOPND, over the past two years, the authority undertook 835 construction and reconstruction programs under the 57 big projects. From the total, 113 programs have been completed.
OSOPND officials said that so far they have saved Afs3 billion through “proper” planning.
“As our compatriots know, Mr. President hands the OSOPND the activities that he thinks cannot be done by other institutions,” the media officer of the OSOPND, Hujjatullah Mujaddedi, said.
But a list sent by the OSOPND to TOLOnews does not include the details of the expenses of the projects and programs being implemented by the authority.
A reporter, Mujtaba Begzad, who has made a report on activities of the OSOPND says he had also received a list by the authority. But the list provides some different info compared to the one received by TOLOnews.
This list shows that the total number of projects is 182 and worth at least Afs7.7 billion ($98 million).
“Projects were removed in some provinces. The name of the project was there but the amount (of its budget) was deleted. When we contacted them again, they said that they have saved money in projects. Or, they have not properly implemented some projects, or the projects were not implemented at all,” Begzad said.
Integrity Watch Afghanistan researchers said that 30% to 40% of the country’s budget is spent on activities under the OSOPND.
“The operations department is spending 30 to 40% of the government’s development budget and it is a very big amount,” head of the monitoring organization, Sayed Ikram Afzali, said. “But, responsiveness and transparency in this institution are still questionable.”
However, the OSOPND officials said they have requested Afs28 billion ($358 million) to run its activities this year. Officials of the authority said that in the past two years they have provided permanent jobs to 26,000 people and short-term employment for one million individuals.