The United States on Thursday announced it is withdrawing about $100 million earmarked for an Afghan energy project and would withhold another $60 million in planned assistance.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited corruption and Afghanistan’s “inability to transparently manage US government resources”.
Pompeo said in a statement that the US would complete the energy infrastructure project, but would do so through another mechanism that does not involve giving the money directly to Afghan authorities.
“Afghan government institutions and leaders must be transparent and accountable to the Afghan people. We stand against those who exploit their positions of power and influence to deprive the Afghan people of the benefits of foreign assistance,” he said in the statement.
Pompeo said the US will fulfill its commitment to the project, but it will have to use an “off-budget” mechanism, given “the Afghan government’s inability to transparently manage US Government resources.”
The withholding of $60 million is due to a “lack of transparency surrounding procurement decisions” by the National Procurement Authority, which is “a great cause for concern.”
This may not come as surprise to many Afghans, who, in the midst of a nationwide power outage, read US Ambassador John Bass’ September 18 tweet (which was reported on by Afghan media).
“Hearing reports the National Procurement Authority won’t authorize fuel purchases for the power plant providing the only electricity in Kabul—even while the US & Resolute Support [US/NATO military mission] help Afghan security forces enable repairs to transmission lines. Could this be true?”
Then, The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee lost its funding because it is “incapable of being a partner in the international effort to build a better future for the Afghan people.”
And a final pledge: “The American taxpayers and the Afghan people can count on the United States to act when we see assistance funds misused.”