Three national and two international companies have bid for New Kabul Bank, Ministry of Finance said Sunday.
The ministry did not name the companies but said the process of reviewing the offers of these companies will start by February 16 next year.
The deadline for bidding on New Kabul Bank was specified as January 13, 2013, but New Year's holidays as well as requests from a number of international companies caused it to be postponed to February 16, the ministry said.
According to the law, bidding time should be 21 days, but since this is an international bidding, there is a three-month timeframe for it, the ministry's spokesman added.
Talking of a number of other companies that have expressed interest to procure the bank, Spokesman Wahid Tawhidi added: "There are a few other companies, too, that have shown readiness for procurement of the bank, but they are still processing their offers. The number of bidding companies might exceed five by the end of bidding time."
According to Tawhidi, New Kabul Bank is a large entity and the government is open to several companies jointly procuring it. But the ministry will come to an agreement with only one bidding company, he added.
The troubled Kabul Bank was bailed out by the government after a $900 million scandal involving high-ranking government officials and their families.
Kabul Bank was hailed as a success story in Afghanistan's banking sector until the scandal.
The long-awaited distribution of electronic ID cards will start next month, officials said Sunday, but complained the process is still grossly underfunded.
Officials said that the new ID cards are expected to be distributed over a period of three years, a process that will cost $121 million and employ thousands of people.
"The registration process starts next month. We are fully prepared to distribute electronic ID cards to an estimated 30 million people," said Masoom Farhad, head of the Computerized ID Card Distribution Department at the Ministry of Interior.
But Farhad said only $5 million has been allocated for his department in the 1392 (2013-14) budget, which is not enough.
"For next year, only $5 million has been allocated for distribution of ID cards, while nearly $121 million is required to distribute ID cards for 28 million people," he added.
Some of the current election challenges and a lack of precise demographic stats are expected to be tackled after the distribution of these ID cards.
Afghanistan's lower house of parliament, Wolesi Jirga, asked President Karzai Saturday to make nominations for attorney general and chief justice.
Attorney General Mohammda Ishaq Aloko has been acting as caretaker after parliament gave him a vote of no-confidence around two years ago; Chief Justice Abdulsalam Azimi has also been serving as caretaker after his tenure ended around the same time.
Parliament said that the continued functioning of these two high-ranking officials is in violation of the law, asking the president to respect the Constitution.
"We ask the president that, pursuant to implementing the Constitution, he seriously respect the will of the people, the parliament and its members and introduce the attorney general and chief justice for confirmation as required by the Constitution," said Speaker Abdulraouf Ibrahimi.
But the outspoken Kabul MP Ramazan Bashardost accused the speaker of having close personal ties with the president, and called on the parliament to withhold budget allocations to attorney general's office and the Supreme Court.
"The Constitution gives us two provisions: article 69, under which we can impeach the president, and article 98 under which, if the attorney general and the Supreme Court are illegal, we can deny their budget allocation this year," said Bashardost.
The parliament's vote of no-confidence to Attorney General Aloko was over accusations of vote rigging and setting up the controversial special court upon orders of the president to mediate electoral complaints after the 2010 parliamentary elections.
President Hamid Karzai warned Saturday that corruption will not be eradicated from the country if the international community uses it as a tool against the Afghan government.
Attributing most of the country's corruption to foreigners, President Karzai called on the international community to prevent further corruption in international contracts.
"The greatest corruption today are in contracts and deals related to foreigners. They try to give these contracts to the relatives of [Afghan] government officials," said President Karzai.
Meanwhile, head of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption has warned that if the issue of corruption is not resolved, this phenomenon will bring down the system.
Corruption is so widespread across country that the government now accepts it as a nation-wide problem. Over the past 11 years, national and international institutions are believed to have been involved in this issue.
The international community has frequently criticised the government of Afghanistan over corruption, but Kabul has linked eradication of corruption to withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.
"If the international community uses corruption for more pressure, there will be no outcome," Karzai said.
Karzai's comments come in the wake of the Tokyo Conference, where the government signed a mutual accountability document, promising to international donors to fight corruption in return for aid dollars.
The High Office Oversight and Anti-Corruption also accepts that their battle against corruption has had little positive results, calling for a large-scale public effort against the phenomenon.
"Fighting corruption needs public will; otherwise, it will bring down the system and the government once again," said Azizullah Lodin, head of anti-corruption body.
In a recent report, Transparency International listed Afghanistan as the most corrupt country in the world. The Afghan government, however, says the organisation has tried to portray Afghanistan as weak, with President Karzai dismissing the report as mostly wrong.
The parliament's lower house, Wolesi Jirga, rejected the budget for 2013 Saturday, citing insufficient allocation for underdeveloped provinces and a large budget for the presidential palace that dwarfs the combined allocations of the judiciary and legislature.
The draft budget had allocated $86 million for the presidential palace, $31 million to the judiciary and $33 million to parliament.
"There is no balance in budget allocations to governmental organs. Also, allocations for most of the underdeveloped provinces is insufficient, so the House rejects the draft budget," said Speaker Abdulraouf Ibrahimi.
MPs from underdeveloped provinces vocally aired their budget grievances.
"The budget is not equitable. From the floor of the parliament I call on all residents of Farah province to protest and get their due rights from this tyrannical government. It has allocated only a trivial amount for the province in the last six years," said MP Mohammed Sarwar Osmani.
The total budget for 2013 was AFN366.2 billion, of which AFN196 billion is the regular budget and more than AFN170 billion is for the developmental budget.
The Ministry of Finance sent the draft budget to parliament for approval a month ago.
The rejection of the budget comes only a week after the lower house decided to impeach 11 ministers who had failed to spend 50 percent or more of their budget last fiscal year.
Parliament called the ministers 'incompetent,' objecting against a longstanding trend of ministries failing to execute much of their budgets due to a lack of capacity and management failure.