Lawmakers in the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of Parliament, on Monday accused the acting finance minister Khalid Payinda of selling positions in customs directorates for millions of dollars and for making illegal appointments and removals after he refused to appear at Parliament to respond to the allegations.
The acting minister was supposed to brief the MPs about his recent comments on the embezzlement of millions of dollars a day from the country’s customs. But he did not appear.
“Vacancies are sold. The finance minister himself is involved in this issue,” said Hamida Ahmadzai, an MP.
“Shame to such a minister in whose presence $8.5 million is embezzled,” said Shahpoor Popal, an MP from Herat.
Another lawmaker, Alim Saee, who represents Takhar province, said the signature of the acting ministers, including Khalid Payinda, who have completed their tenure as caretakers, should be announced invalid “starting from today.”
“The signature of his corrupt person is not valid from today,” he said.
Two months ago, Payinda told lawmakers at a general session that some MPs have influence on customs where $8.5 million is embezzled every day.
“Soldiers die due to lack of supplies, but they embezzle millions of dollars daily,” said Jawed Safi, an MP and member of the budget and finance committee of the Parliament.
Other lawmakers meanwhile accused some of their colleagues of making deals with the finance ministry and called to send Payinda to the judicial institutions.
“The treasury director of the government leader in a democratic country is not responsive to the nation and based on the Constitution, he has no place here and he should be sent to the judiciaries as quickly as possible,” said Nahid Farid, an MP from Herat.
“The minister is threatened that if he does not do their work, he will be summoned. I am sure that a big number here have made deals with him,” said Belqis Roshan, an MP from Farah.
The acting finance minister so far has not made public the list of those who he claimed are involved in major corruption in customs despite his vow to do so in May.
“Considering the current situation with the country’s customs and other income resources, he (the acting minister) could not appear at the House, but we confirm that he will appear in future sessions if he is asked,” Finance Ministry spokesman Rafi Tabi said.
The lawmakers could not make a decision regarding the acting minister due to a lack of quorum in Monday's session.