Lawmakers in the Wolesi Jirga on Monday said the government is not implementing the projects it promised in the current fiscal year’s budget and that these projects are being handled "politically."
Some lawmakers contend that government officials are attempting to funnel funding for budget-allocated projects outside the country.
The MPs also called on the government to increase the salaries of low-ranking officials, as promised in the amended budget draft. The government-proposed budget was rejected two times by the parliament and only accepted after the government promised to include lawmakers’ suggestions in it.
“The NTA salaries (high-scale wages) should have been reduced, but they have been increased. However, the salaries of the low-ranking officials have had an additional 2,000 Afs wages deducted,” said Sayed Mohammad Sediq Hasanzada, an MP from Logar.
“I want to tell the finance minister that he is a position that is not legal,” said Mamoor Ahmadzai, an MP from Baghlan.
The lawmakers mentioned the Kotal-e-Khairkhana road project in the north of Kabul as an example of projects that they claimed are being used politically by the government.
“The procurement for the Kotal road project should be completed; otherwise, the people will hold protests and rallies and will close the road,” said Mir Haidar Afzali, an MP from Kapisa.
“Lack of balanced development and injustice are not acceptable for the people. Therefore, the Kotal-e-Khairkhana project should not be politicized,” the Wolesi Jirga speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani said.
Some MPs meanwhile accused the government of embezzling from the national budget, citing the allocation of 800 million Afs for the budget for the High Council for National Reconciliation,
“Low-ranking officials' salaries have been deducted to 2,000 to 3,000. Isn’t that treason?” asked Ghulam Hussain Naseri, an MP from Kabul.
“The government is busy with issues relating to the Turkey summit, which is a crucial event. They want to take the money with them outside the country,” said Allah Gul Mujahid, an MP from Kabul.
The reconciliation council said budget issues are government tasks, the council is concerned with peace.
“The reconciliation council has been established based on a political agreement and has the responsibility of conducting the peace efforts,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, a spokesman of the council.
The Ministry of Finance said that a draft has been finalized to balance the salaries of low-ranking government officials.
“A technical committee is working on the salaries, and its work is almost done and will be implemented in the near future after cabinet approval,” Finance Ministry spokesman Mohammad Rafiullah Tabe said.
This comes after the budget for the current fiscal year was rejected twice by the parliament but was approved after intense discussions between the legislative body and the Finance Ministry.