The National Unity Government (NUG) established the National Procurement Authority (NPA) five years ago for the sake of transparency and the fight against administrative corruption. Afghan people welcomed the establishment of this commission because about 2% of GDP is consumed through the public procurement system. The government focused most of its attention on NPA and nourished it with the slogan to control public spending and eliminate corruption.
But after five years of NPA, it has been described as a failed experience and one of the largest failed departments in NUG. With the establishment of this department many of people were optimistic about the decreasing role of mafia within the government, but after five years the head of the Finance Commission of Wolesi Jirga claims that NPA has become the heart of corruption in the country.
Earlier, President Ghani had said that the Ministry of Interior (MoI) had become the heart of corruption in the Afghan government, but now, after five years, Arg’s beloved commission has become the heart of corruption.
Mohammad Azim Mohseni, head of the parliament’s finance and budget commission, said in a recent statement: “Everybody used to say that the interior ministry has become the heart of corruption, but now the Presidential Palace and National Procurement Authority have become the heart of corruption; everything that the national procurement office does is final. The office is not accountable to any authority.”
He added that the NPA does not share any project with the people’s representatives in the National Assembly, and therefore no MPs attend the Bureau meetings.
According to his statement, if a member of parliament attends the meetings of the NPA, it would actually legitimize its illegal operations.
Mohseni emphasized that there is widespread corruption in contracts signed through the National Procurement Authority because 95 per cent of construction projects worth millions of Afghans are allocated from a single source by the Presidential Operations Deputy, he said. There is no answer regarding this.
He also referred to the legal modification of national procurement, saying that the National Assembly amended the national procurement law last year, but the law has not yet been amended by the president.
Mohseni also disclosed that there had been a restriction in the amendments to the National Procurement Law, which provided that the employees of the Bureau could not contract the projects from a single source.
On the basis of amendments to the National Procurement Law by the National Assembly, the President, the Second Vice President, the Executive Director of the Government and the Ministers of Industry and Commerce, and the Ministry of Labor were also members of the National Procurement Commission.
But now, only the finance, economy and justice ministers are members of the National Procurement Commission. At the same time, some other MPs say they now work close to the president at the National Procurement Authority and are not accountable to any institution.
Recently, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the US will be withholding funds from Afghanistan because of a lack of transparency and accountability. Funding for an energy infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan will continue, but not with the original $100 million earmarked, and not through the usual channels of disbursement. Another $60 million in planned assistance is now off the table. And the Afghan Monitoring and Evaluation Committee would lose all US funding at the end of the calendar year.
“Afghan government institutions and leaders must be transparent and accountable to the Afghan people. We stand against those who exploit their positions of power and influence to deprive the Afghan people of the benefits of foreign assistance,” Pompeo said in the statement.
What was the actual reason behind the suspension?
The US secretary of state Michael Pompeo announced this was due to corruption in financial management and lack of accountability in Ghani’s government and also Ghani has been publicly unaware of his anti-corruption plans, he has also failed.
Corruption is a dangerous dilemma that has caused many calamities in Afghanistan, and fighting it requires strong will, not slogan, and this will not be seen in the heads of the NUG.
There may be talk and things to show to the international community, but people have somehow lost hope in Ghani administration. So, these slogans are not very believable.
If Ashraf Ghani had honestly been fighting corruption today, we would not have seen the US $160 million cut in Afghanistan.
If the Afghan President Ghani had taken the first opportunity to elect qualified, experienced, efficient and people-approved people, today the situation would have been different and the doubts about the performance of the statesmen would not have been so great.
Many Analysts believe that the President Ghani has created a National Procurement Commission in his favor. With the creation of this commission, all projects must go through his hands and his associates and pay for them.
Most contracts are said to come from those who have some sort of close and even secretive relationship with the presidency. From the country’s first lady to President Ghani’s relatives have been accused of making big economic deals. Can we still talk about President Ghani’s will to fight corruption?
President Ghani, contrary to his slogan, has no will or plan to fight corruption. All his plans are to establish a judicial center in the fight against corruption and to formulate a strategy against corruption.
According to the head of the Anti-Corruption Authority (ACA), these institutions had no role in reducing corruption in the country. When the head of the ACA looks at President Ghani’s plans as futile, what can institutions expect from such institutions as international transparency?
The fight against corruption in Afghanistan remains like a cow that provides the organization with a guarantee of a longer stay in power and with millions of dollars in international community assistance. If this entity and the president were really looking to reduce corruption in Afghanistan, the Kabul Bank and the Ministry of Finance and dozens of other cases would not have been mysteriously closed.
Instead of combating corruption, President Ghani is trying to expand his dominance and concentrate political power entirely on the Presidential Palace. President Ghani has never been concerned about corruption in Afghanistan. As the Afghan Judicial and Justice Center said years ago, the Arg has no serious will to fight corruption.