A recent decision by President Ashraf Ghani to impose a travel ban on 68 employees of the Finance Ministry has raised questions about whether or not the Afghan president has the right to do so.
Along with the travel ban list, in another official letter President Ghani said his approval will be required for all travel by officials of the Finance Ministry up until grade five.
“A need to ask the president’s approval for any trip for officials of the Finance Ministry until grade five questions their rights, particularly their citizenship rights,” said Azim Kebarzani, an MP.
The reason behind the decision is not clear so far but sources said that the limitations might be due to corruption and relations-based appointments in the Ministry of Finance.
Corruption was cited by the Presidential Palace when the first list of 68 officials was announced, so sources say Ghani may be attempting to demonstrate his will for reform. There are also reports about the reduction in government employees' incomes due to alleged corruption in customs.
An official of the reforms commission said that many appointments in the Finance Ministry were made in the absence of free competition.
“The officials of the Finance Ministry did not announce their vacancies to allow for free competition, and we are insisting that all civil services positions in all institutions--including the Ministry of Finance--should be announced through free competition,” said Farid Ahmad, spokesman for the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Services Commission.
“A better structure has been ensured in our customs offices around the country and processes have been eased and our activities have improved every year,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry.
But researchers said the government does not have the capacity to implement reforms in the Ministry of Finance.
“The president, the parliament and the legislative pillar are responsible to make ministers and high-ranking officials accountable, but there is lack of a political will in this respect,” said Nasir Taimori, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.
“Incomes have reduced from one leader (in the ministry of finance) to another. You can see evidence in customs of how much the incomes were last year and the year before and how much they are now,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, member of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment.