Government employees, teachers, tribal elders and residents of at least eight provinces at separate gatherings on Friday announced their support to Afghan Parliament’s stance on the national budget and emphasized the need to make public servants salaries equivalent.
The gatherings were held in Qarabagh district in Kabul, Bagram district and Charikar city in Parwan, the city of Mahmoud Raqi in Kapisa, the Lashkargah city in Helmand, the Khost city in Khost, the Qala-e-Naw city in Badghis, Ghor, Paktia, and the Pul-e-Khumri city in Baghlan.
Security concerns, the pause in peace talks and issues around the current fiscal year’s budget were main concerns raised by the participants of the gatherings that were held simultaneously in the mentioned provinces.
“We will be with you. We will never feel separate from the people,” said Mir Haidar Afzali, an MP from Kapisa.
“We will not keep calm unless justice is served. No force will be able to silence our voice,” said Zarif, a tribal elder from Parwan.
Those who attended the gatherings called for swift action on amendments proposed by lawmakers, especially the request on an increase in lower-ranking government employees’ salaries.
“A teacher is paid only 5,000 Afs to 7,000 Afs (less than $100) as monthly salary but look at the price of one pack of flour,” said Abdul Salam, a tribal elder in Parwan.
“There should equal salary range. People have gathered here for justice,” said Tamana, a resident of Parwan.
The participants of the gathering said they will continue civic rallies if their demand was not met.
“We are living in Kabul, but we don’t have access to electricity, we don’t have any type of comfort, we don’t have transportation resources, we don’t have security,” said Qais Ahmad Safai, a resident of the Qarabagh district of Kabul.
“We warn the rulers of the Presidential Palace and circles within the palace to stop ‘authoritarianism’ and stop moving the country towards crisis; otherwise, the people will not remain silent,” said Ahmad, a resident of Mir Bachakot district of Kabul.
The government has an estimated Afs 473 billion ($6 billion) for the current year’s budget, including Afs 162 billion ($2 billion) for the development budget and Afs 311 billion ($4 billion) for the ordinary budget.
The budget draft has been rejected by the parliament twice. The lawmakers have raised 19 issues in the draft for the current fiscal year for which they are yet to approve the document.
“Fake promises have been given to us for many years. None of them were delivered,” said Abdullah, a teacher in Ghor province.
“We expect that the salaries of the teachers are increased,” said a teacher in Helmand.