President Ashraf Ghani defends NPA’s performance

After the US Secretary of State cited the National Procurement Authority (NPA) and its “lack of transparency,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani backed the performance and integrity of the NPA.

The US State Department announced that Washington was withdrawing about $100 million earmarked for an Afghan energy project, and would withhold another $60 million in planned assistance, because of corruption.

The announcement also made it clear that future funding would not be channeled through the Afghan government.

Ghani opposed the US State decision and said that there is an authority to review the contracts. There are weekly meetings to evaluate each contract, and Ghani claims that “in their 190 meetings over contracts, over 17 billion Afs have been saved.”

Not the only US but Ghani’s ways to manage the contracts and its funds, also questioned by other officials of Afghanistan parliament.

The Minister of Economy Mustafa Mastoor claimed on Saturday that the withholding of contracts is part of a system whereby ministries cannot spend their budgets, so at the end of the year, the remaining funds get allocated to an emergency fund, whose use has little or no accountability.

President Ashraf Ghani contends Mastoor statement and said he is withholding funds from certain government departments–preventing the disbursement of funds, and carefully scrutinizing contracts– to prevent corrupt officials farther down the line from getting access.

But a number of officials in Afghanistan’s parliament have declared that the NPA is “the heart of corruption” in the government.

“Unfortunately, recently, there is some evidence that indicates that the NPA has changed into the heart of corruption, and it is headed by Mr. Ashraf Ghani,” said Abdul Zahir Tamim, a member of the Afghan parliament.

“Neither the legal institutions nor the parliament, nor anyone else can appeal the decision of the NPA,” said Azim Mohseni, head of parliament’s budget commission.

Another criticism came against the Ghani’s government is that Ghani not only just hold the contracts but also grant unfairly. Mohseni says that Ghani has “monopolized all the contracts.”

According to the parliament’s budget commission, nearly 60 percent of the overall budget of the country goes to the three security institutions of the country. However, the majority of the contracts for foodstuffs and other supplies for the security institutions are monopolized by a few people.

But Ghani contends this information and said “It is just because the contractors and their Afghan partners prefer their personal interests to national interests,” said Ghani, recently referring to people involved in a road construction project.

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