With the slashing of about 49 billion Afghanis from the Afghan government's "optional development budget" in a draft proposal, the funding of dozens of development programs of various institutions has already been reduced or suspended.
The midyear budget draft calls for a reduction in the optional development budget from 86 billion Afghanis to about 37 billion Afghanis.
The midyear budget proposal has not been approved by Parliament, but the cuts are being implemented nevertheless. Projects have been suspended due to the halt of government funding, and the funding of other programs has been reduced.
Work on numerous projects has been stopped and payments to contractor companies have been indefinitely delayed.
“Most of our projects were funded by donors in the past, but unfortunately, we are faced with a lack of budget now,” said Hamidullah Habibi, chairman of the Construction Companies Union.
Out of about 49 billion Afghanis cut from the latest budget draft, about 10 billion Afghanis were earmarked for the development budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the Ministry of Public Works.
The optional development budget of the Ministry of Mines has also shrunk from one billion Afghanis to 400 million Afghanis.
The National Union of Workers says the suspension of projects, along with the increase of insecurity and drought, will cause unemployment and increased poverty in the country.
“The suspension of projects will lead to the loss of millions of Afghanis and jobs as well,” said Marof Qaderi, director of the National Union of Workers.
By curtailing some projects, the government has allocated funding for eight national programs.
In the midyear budget draft, the funding for some programs like the Citizens’ Charter Program (CCP), Dastarkhwan-e-Meli (a government program to support low-income households), and an emergency food security program have not faced budget cuts.
“The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, which is responsible for the Dastarkhwan-e-Meli Program in the villages, confirms that the program is being implemented normally. We have covered over one million households to date,” said Hayatullah Hayat, the acting minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
Adjustments applied to the midyear budget show that the optional development budget of the National Standards Authority (ANSA) that was originally 161 million Afghanis has been cut to zero.
Reports suggest that during the past seven months (since the beginning of the current fiscal year), the National Standards Authority could spend only one percent of the originally allocated 161 million Afghanis earmarked for the annual optional development budget.