News - Afghanistan
Written by Rafi Sediqi   
Sunday, 31 March 2013 20:05

Afghanistan's parliament on Monday will vote on whether four government ministers will keep their positions over their ministries failure to spend more than 50 percent of their designated "development" budgets in 2011.

The four ministers of economy, finance, information and culture, and mines have been summoned to appear before the lawmakers tomorrow to defend their ministries' budget spending from March 2011-March 2012 (Persian year 1390), parliamentary secretary Sayed Ikram told TOLOnews.

"Tomorrow the lawmakers will decide which of them will receive a vote of confidence," Ikram said.

"The summoning process will be carried out in accordance with the rules of the procedures of the house," he added.

Four more ministers will be summoned Wednesday and three more on Saturday, Ikram said, meaning the total 11 ministers whose ministries under-spent their development budgets in 1390 will be questioned, despite four of the 11 ministers only being appointed after 1390.

The debate among MPs over whether to dismiss all 11 ministers began in December but was never resolved.

The 11 ministers of interior, defence, economy, finance, water and energy, education, urban development, mining, higher education, counter-narcotics, and information and culture were first summoned late last year to answer for their ministries budget management.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 20:31
News - Afghanistan
Written by Abdul Wali Arian   
Sunday, 31 March 2013 18:50

The Afghan Ministry of Defence will focus on retaining Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) recruits, a defence spokesman said Sunday, after a UK newspaper revealed as many 5,000 soldiers are quitting every month.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 March 2013 20:03
News - Afghanistan
Written by Zabihullah Jhanmal   
Sunday, 31 March 2013 18:18

The government has no specific plan to tackle the challenges ahead of Afghanistan when international donor funding drops, putting the country at risk, an Afghan economic analyst said Sunday.

But the charge was dismissed by the Ministry of Economics which has argued that Afghanistan is more likely to witness economic progress than a slowdown.

Economic analyst Azarakhsh Hafezi told TOLOnews that the government is not paying sufficient attention to the improvement of the country's economy, and he fears that the private sector will particularly struggle.

"The manifestation of every country's economic growth are the gross domestic product, development of productions and exports, and sufficient amount of assistance to the private sector. None of these are provided in Afghanistan," he said.

A 96 percent deficit in the country's trade balance, rising unemployment, stagnation of industries, lack of economic infrastructure, trade and transit issues with neighbouring countries, corruption and bureaucracy, as well as being dependent on foreign aid are all concerns that analysts have said will impede sustainable economic after 2014.

However, the Minister of Economics Abdulhadi Arghandiwal argued that Afghanistan's economic growth may face only a very small slowdown after 2014 when the international forces withdraw and donor funding ceases.

Considering the long-term funding commitments of the international community and the potential of the country's mine resources, Afghanistan will witness economic progress, he told TOLOnews Sunday.

"We have worked towards a national economic strategy and, God-willing, it will soon be approved and implemented. Furthermore, the private sector also has had impressive progress which reassures us that we may have sustainable economic growth in the future," he said.

The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) is also optimistic that there will be more progress in the future.

"We are hopeful that there will be more interest in investments in the future, especially in the sectors of agriculture and processing of domestic products," said Wafiullah Safi, head of AISA.

Yet despite the signs of economic growth, some analysts argue that this is an illusion buoyed by foreign aid, indirect incomes from the opium trade, and income from projects funded by the international community. Any decrease or discontinuation of these factors will affect growth.

"The government needs to address the current issues of the economic situation and make opportunities for employment and production. If these are not carried out, it is clear that there will be more problems ahead," said Mohammad Qurban Haqjoo, head of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 11:09
News - Afghanistan
Written by Saleha Sadat   
Sunday, 31 March 2013 16:47

Some Afghan lawmakers have called for the US-funded Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IRACSC) to be abolished, claiming that it abets corruption and nepotism.

Established almost 10 years ago in partnership with US AID, the commission was intended to be as its name suggests: a reformer.

"The philosophy of the creation and existence of the IARCSC is to introduce changes in various dimensions including legal, cultural, management, structural, human, technical and capacity of Afghan civil service institutions towards standardization of these institutions and delivery of standard services," the US AID website says.

However, some parliamentarians on Saturday said that widespread corruption exists throughout the commission and that staff are regularly hired based on family connections.

"The commission should be abolished and its employees should be appointed to other government administrations," said MP Hafiz Masoor, who is part of the parliamentary commission on central investigation and law implementation.

"The Constitution gives this right to Parliament to cancel a commission which has been created by the president. The cancelation of this commission is our legal right," Wardak MP Ghulam Hussain Nasiri said in the parliamentary session.

Some lawmakers claimed that the commission was ineffective.

"The commissions' work is not giving results, so why do we need to continue this commission," MP Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi said.

MP Ramazan Bashardost said he opposed the commission from the start.

"From its beginning, I have said that this commission does not have any benefit," he said.

But a number of lawmakers opposed the move to abolish it saying it is not a suitable time to do so.

"The president created the commission and he will not accept your decision – it would be a hasty decision. This decision will make new problems between the parliament and government," Parwan MP Sediq Ahmad Osmani said.

An IARCSC representative did not deny the claims laid against the commission, saying there should an investigation into the matter.

Head of the IARCSC appeals board director Mohammad Nader Hotak noted that some lawmakers have tried to influence the independence of the commission.

"Every day a member of parliament comes here and demands we appoint some person but we excuse them because our work has special policies and systems," he told TOLOnews Saturday.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 11:10
News - Afghanistan
Written by Rafi Sediqi   
Saturday, 30 March 2013 21:57

Kabul-Parwan highway was blocked Saturday after a number of residents from Kabul's northern district of Mir Bachakot staged a demonstration to protest the deaths of four residents allegedly killed by a police official who has gone unpunished.

The Mir Bachakot protestors claimed that fellow residents Yar Dil Nizami and three others from the Do Koh village were killed three months ago allegedly by the Civil Order Police commander Zemarai Paikan who has used his power to escape prosecution.

Another six residents were injured in the incident. Yar Dil Nizami was singled out because he headed a civil society action group.

The demonstrators were protesting the lack of action of the government in pursuing the case.

"The government has not worked to arrest the perpetrators of Yar Dil and three others. It is known that the perpetrator is the civil order police commander. We will continue to demonstrate if they not arrested," Gul Dad Nizami, the brother of Yar Dil said.

"We, the demonstrators, are residents of Do Koh village. Our only wish is the punishment of those who killed in the village and injured six others," one of the protestors told TOLOnews.

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) Saturday told said that the investigation was in the hands of the Attorney General.

"The delegation who was appointed by the Interior Ministry completed the investigation and sent it to the Attorney General. We that the Attorney General announces its decision as soon as possible," MOI deputy spokesman Najibullah Nikzad said.

The demonstration caused problems for others in the area and those seeking to travel on the highway.

"We have been waiting for several hours for the highway to be opened. The way is blocked because of a demonstration and creating lots of problems. We are going to Parwan province," Parwan resident Shirin Aqa told TOLOnews.

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