The speaker and some members of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of the Parliament, on Monday blamed President Ashraf Ghani for his lack of awareness on the Constitution’s definition of the authorities of MPs, claiming that the president is "deceiving the people" by excluding projects from this year’s budget plan.
The budget and finance committee of the House said the government takes over Afs36 billion from the International Monetary Fund but details of how the money will be spent are unclear. Also, millions have been allocated from the national budget for the purchase of armored vehicles, which has given rise to debate.
The speaker of the House, Mir Rahman Rahmani, said they will not start their winter break and will not approve the budget unless the amendments are added to the budget plan.
President Ghani last week accused lawmakers of pushing their personal interests by seeking to add thousands of projects to the new fiscal year’s budget.
“This cynical view shows an unawareness of the law, on Articles 75, 90, 98, 91, 99 of the Constitution,” Rahmani said.
“The Meshrano Jirga (Senate) only has the right to consult. The president has the right to approve. It is one of the conditions of the Wolesi Jirga,” said Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, head of the legislative committee of the parliament.
Lawmakers said they have not added any projects in their favor, but they have made the request to ensure the demands of the people.
“If the fight for increasing salaries of teachers and soldiers is a personal project, or if raising the voice of reality is a personal project and betrayal, then I have committed this betrayal first,” said Sayed Ahmad Selab, an MP.
“People’s projects that should be implemented by your ministers should be added to the budget document,” said Raihana Azad, an MP.
The head of the budget and finance committee’s secretariat, Mohammad Azim Kebarzani, said that there is a lack of clarity over “millions of dollars” in the draft budget and that the government has not paid government employees’ salaries during the delay in the approval of the budget, even though the law has provisions for such a situation, as financial affairs can be carried over from the previous year’s budget.
“They have allocated a budget for armored vehicles and Afs16.6 billion in emergency and development funds,” Kebarzani said.
“I say to the MPs that it is not the time for a face off with the government,” said Abdul Rauf Shpoon, an MP.
The Ministry of Finance has not resubmitted a reviewed version of the draft budget plan to the parliament despite being 20 days already into the current fiscal year.
The parliament rejected this fiscal year's budget plan on December 30, citing “serious problems.”
The exclusion of 1,131 provincial projects, the allocation of Afs13 billion ($166 million) for the emergency code (an emergency budgetary unit) and the allocation of Afs2 billion ($25.5 million) to the government's Code 91 and 92--also emergency funds--were reasons for concern raised by lawmakers.
The draft is expected to be sent to the cabinet meeting for approval and then it will be sent to the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Parliament, for approval.
The Finance Ministry said that the processing of the budget has not had progress so far.
The budget for the fiscal year 1400 (2021) that was submitted to the parliament by the government estimated a total of Afs452 billion ($5.8 billion) for this fiscal year.