AOP eyes new projects despite MPs’ scrutiny

KABUL (Tolo News): Despite the fact that the Afghan parliament raised questions on the legality of the Operation and Support Office of the President for National Development (AOP) as a unit in the proposed budget, the entity is now planning to execute 300 new projects during the current year fiscal year of the Persian year of 1400 (2021).

Last week, the lawmakers said that the allocation of funds to budgetary units in the national budget is one of the main issues that have delayed the approval of the document by the Afghan parliament. In the new budget plan the lawmakers suggested that the AOP must be dropped from the list of budgetary units and no new project should be given to this entity.

The lawmakers argue that the government is tasking the AOP to implement the projects without putting them through a proper bidding process. The AOP has 2,000 employees and last year 19 billion Afs were allocated for it.

In the 1400 (2021) fiscal budget, the government has allocated 3.4 billion Afs to pay the debts of the AOP, a move that sparked strong retaliation from parliament members. “There are 238 projects which also include construction projects, consultative firms and so on—these projects cost over 45.9 billion Afs—there are also 230 new projects which are under designing and survey,” said Sadaqatullah Sadiq, the deputy director of AOP.

“The private sector also implemented projects in the past and today too—and some of our projects faced with legal problems and their fate has remained uncertain—because they were not implement, there is a need that the government take action,” said Abdul Ghafarzoi, the head of procurement department of AOP.

 “We expect the president to review the AOP in order to avoid conflict of interest between the ministries,” said MP Fatima Aziz.

The House of Representatives has previously said that the government gives projects to the AOP without bidding, which makes the process not accountable to lawmakers. It is not clear from which budgetary unit the government will offer funds to the AOP for new projects.