November 12, 2016
Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, has sacked three government ministers, including the foreign minister, citing poor performance and their failure to timely spend allocated budgets.
“The respected minister Salahuddin Rabbani of foreign affairs is voted down and we request the president to introduce another candidate and candidates for two other ministries,” Parliament Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi announced on Saturday, also declaring the dismissal of Minister of Public Works Mahmood Baligh and Minister of Labor Nasreen Oryakhil by failing to secure votes of confidence from the MPs.
The move was viewed by local observers as a blow to the administration of President Ashraf Ghani as lawmakers further warned that they would move to cast votes of no-confidence in more ministers unless they offered convincing arguments regarding their budgetary issues.
A joint parliamentary commission announced last week that it intended to grill government ministers over their failure to spend their development budgets, insisting that all ministers must explain their reasons for not spending their respective budgets.
This is while 15 other ministries have also failed to spend the allocated development budgets, according to local press reports.
Meanwhile, the country’s Supreme Audit Office (SAO) announced that little money was spent last year by government ministries, further suggesting that much of the assigned funds had been embezzled.
The SAO also stated that during the previous year, government institutions allocated large sums of funds to various sectors without defining a spending plan, in contradiction to laws of the country.
According to SAO, last year only 17 percent of the 283 billion AFN ($4.3 billion) budget was spent by government institutions, adding that another 152 billion AFN ($2.3 billion) was allocated for development projects, of which only 46.5 percent was spent.
The nation’s audit office further noted that in 2015, the government failed to meet budgetary targets set by the World Bank.
The SAO said the Afghan government lost $121 million in World Bank grants last year after failing to implement the targets set by the Western-controlled international lender.