A probe by TOLOnews has found that hundreds of development projects are not being implemented each year and dozens more have either ground to a halt or are moving forward at a snail’s pace.
According to the report, 4,800 development projects were included in this year’s national budget and of these, 400 are still being assessed by the ministry of economy and have yet to be approved by the National Procurement Commission – which falls under the National Procurement Authority.
The 4,800 projects were included in the first draft of the national budget – which was rejected by the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament).
In the second draft, besides other reforms, more than 480 development projects were added in the “provincial projects” category, totaling $70 million USD.
“This is not extortion. According to the Constitution, it is a call for balanced progress. And another issue is that the projects are not implemented because government and its ministries do not have the capacity to make the projects happen,” said Qadir Zazai, an MP.
The report shows that of these 4,800 projects, 900 of them are large-scale projects which should be approved by the National Procurement Commission.
However, the commission has approved only 300 out of 900 projects in the first half of the current fiscal year while the Ministry of Economy has technically assessed 113 projects.
The Ministry of Finance says more than 15 percent of the development budget has been spent by government in the first six months of the current fiscal year.
“We will have to deal with the lack of spending the development budget if financial and procurement plans are regular and if they (ministries) work on (building) their capacity,” the Finance Ministry spokesman Ajmal Hamid Abdulrahimzai said.
The Ministry of Economy, which has the authority to technically assess the projects recommended by other ministries, admits that several uplifting projects are not being unimplemented every year.
The ministry is now assessing 500 projects from last year, the report indicates.
According to the Ministry of Economy, more than 150 projects were stopped last year.
“There were 156 projects from all sectors. The reasons behind the stoppage of projects were different. But, one of the main reasons was that the documents of projects were not processed,” said Suhrab Bahman, spokesman for ministry of economy.
The following are details on some development projects obtained by TOLOnews:
• The Herat-Ghorian Road project which passes through Enjil, Zindajan and Ghorian regions of Herat and is valued at $20 million USD should have been completed in two years. However, work on the project was stopped many times and now a second company is working on it but the project has still not been completed.
• The Bakhtar High School in Mazar-e-Sharif city, Balkh province. Work on this project, budgeted at $280,000 USD, was stopped many times for various reasons. The project was scheduled to be completed in 2012. But it was stopped for one year. Finally, the project was completed last year at a cost of $360,000 USD.
• The construction project of a building for Herat’s accounting institute and its dormitory. The contractor was paid for the work when the project was only 30 percent complete. After receiving the money, the contractor disappeared. The project remains incomplete.
“Political decisions are the basis for decision surrounding projects. These decisions are done by government and ministries’ leaderships. The decisions are not taken technically. Therefore, serious problems happen in the running the projects,” said Mir Rahman Rahmani, head of Economic Commission of the Wolesi Jirga.
“The contractors complain that when they choose to attend bidding processes (of a project or projects), their documents are taken and then they don’t know what measures are considered by higher ranking relevant offices to accept the projects,” said Rahmani.
However, the National Procurement Authority says the method of reporting about the National Procurement Commission’s activities to the Wolesi Jirga has created an information gap in parliament.
The authority continues its efforts to overcome the problems on the ground, said Mohammad Suhail Kakar, head of strategic relations of the National Procurement Authority.
“We are not satisfied with the progress in the reports from the projects which have been approved by the National Procurement Commission,” he added.
The report meanwhile indicates that despite efforts to increase the capacity of development sectors, foreign companies’ assistance is being sought in technical assessments of big upliftment projects.