The Afghan government has spent Afs5 billion ($64.8 million) more than the allocated budget for Code 91 funds in three fiscal years, according to information provided by the finance and budget committee of the parliament. Code 91 is an emergency budgetary unit, and its spending has been under scrutiny by critics.
At least Afs3 billion ($38.9 million) has been spent through Code 91 funds during former acting finance minister Mohammad Humayun Qayoumi’s leadership, something that has raised questions.
According to the details provided by the finance and budget committee of the parliament, the allocated budget for Code 91 in the 1396 fiscal year (2017) was Afs1.3 billion ($16.8 million) and it spent an additional Afs 1.499 million ($19.4 million), the budget for the code in 1397 fiscal year (2018) was Afs1.3 billion ($16.8 million) and it spent an additional Afs 1.720 billion ($22.3 million) and the budget for the code in 1398 fiscal year (2019) was ($12.9 million) and an additional Afs 1.830 billion ($23.7 million) was spent under the budget.
However, the information shows that the government has saved Afs100 million ($1.2 million) in the last fiscal year of 1399 (2020) from an allocated budget of Afs1.1 billion ($14.2 million).
Some lawmakers from the finance and budget committee of the parliament said that the Finance Ministry is not making public the details of spending of Code 91 funds in the fiscal year 1398 (2020).
The committee summoned officials of the Ministry of Finance after they did not receive a response to their two letters about the spending of Code 91 and Code 92 funds in fiscal year 1398.
“Why did the finance minister attend yesterday’s cabinet meeting if he is ill? He did not attend today’s meeting of the committee,” said Mir Afghan Safi, head of the finance and budget committee of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of Parliament.
“We will hold a press conference and will tell our clients publicly and will ask them not to pay taxes if they are asked by tax officials. We will see how your armed men will collect taxes,” said Abdul Zahir Salangi, a member of the committee.
Assessments by lawmakers show that in the 2020 fiscal year, the government spent Code 91 funds more than in other years and it was higher than the amount allocated for the emergency budgetary unit.
The committee members said they have found access to details of the budget expenses.
“(The government) has spent Afs147 million ($19 million) for house rent and apartment(s) purchases, Afs118 million ($1.5 million) for Hizb-e-Islami, and Afs70 million ($908,000) for the purchase and rental of armored vehicle(s),” said Sayed Azim Kebarzani, the head of the secretariat of the finance and budget committee.
“The government should get the Wolesi Jirga’s approval if it makes additional spending under the codes,” said Abdul Rauf Inami, a member of the committee.
The Ministry of Finance said that the delay in responding to the request of the lawmakers about Code 91 and Code 92 funds was due to a lack of coordination between two relevant committees of the parliament.
“We are committed to share more details,” said Abdul Habib Zadran, the deputy minister of finance. “It should be made clear which committee (of the House) wants what. We shared all details from the 1399 (fiscal year). In 1398 (2019) I was not deputy minister nor was the (incumbent) minister in the post.”
“The deputy minister of finance and the finance minister are not responsible. Mr. President might have put pressure on them to withhold the information,” said Sediq Ahmad Osmani, a member of finance and budget committee of the Wolesi Jirga.
The deputy minister of finance said that the spending of Code 91 and Code 92 funds was less than the allocated amount in fiscal year 1399 (2019).
The spending of Code 91 funds, which is an emergency budgetary unit, has been widely criticized.
A report published last December by Etilaatroz newspaper states that over Afs2 billion ($25.9 million) from the government's emergency fund known as Code 91 has been spent for the personal expenses of over a dozen government officials in the solar year 1398 (March 2019 to March 2020).
The report shows that over Afs129 million ($1.6 million) has been spent on house rent, vehicle rent, daily expenses, bonuses for employees, apartment purchases, and travel expenses for 15 government officials and their staff.
According to the report, presidential adviser Waheed Omer has received over Afs30 million ($392,000), presidential envoy Umer Daudzai has received Afs13,561,000 ($175,000), presidential adviser Fazl Mahmoud Fazli has received Afs12,912,624 ($167,000) and presidential adviser Mohammad Afzal Ludin has received Afs11,582,455 ($150,000).
The report also shows that former president Hamid Karzai has received Afs11,700,000 ($151,000) from the code.
On Dec. 13, 2020, Waheed Omer, presidential adviser and head of the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs of the President, in response to the report said the amount was part of the government’s allocation for his office.