Govt sends budget draft back to Parliament

KABUL (Tolo News): The Afghan Ministry of Finance reported that the second draft budget plan for the year 1400 (2021) had been finalized with the necessary amendments and the document has been sent to the parliament for approval.

This comes after the speaker and some members of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament, on Monday blamed President Ashraf Ghani for a lack of awareness of the Constitution’s definition of the authorities of MPs, claiming that the president is “deceiving the people” by excluding projects from this year’s budget plan.

Meanwhile, some MPs have claimed that the latest version has not made any significant changes in the budget plan. They threatened not to approve the budget plan unless the government brings necessary changes.

Lawmakers called the budget “unbalanced.” “The Afghan government has considered the necessary changes in the budget plan, the budget draft was also approved by the cabinet and sent for final approval to the parliament,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.

Some other lawmakers meanwhile said that bringing any changes to the budget plan is the authority of the parliament. “This budget is the budget of the nation, this is not your personal budget. Based on the law, the people are the main custodian of the system, the people pay taxes to the government based on the law, the government is obliged to bring prosperity and comforts to them,” said MP Nahid Farid.

Meanwhile, the speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, Mir Rahman Rahmani, said that the lawmakers will not approve the budget plan if necessary amendments weren’t introduced in the document. “Fair and equal salaries are the red line of the people’s house (parliament). Until the government values the rights of employees, teachers, soldiers and retirees, the budget will not be approved,” said Rahmani.

“Some government officials make deliberate mistakes on a daily basis, then they level allegations of theft against the nation’s house (parliament),” said Rafiullah Mamozai, MP. President Ghani last week accused lawmakers of pushing their personal interests by seeking to add thousands of projects to the new fiscal year’s budget.

The exclusion of 1,131 provincial projects, the allocation of Afs13 billion ($166 million) for the emergency code (an emergency budgetary unit) and the allocation of Afs2 billion ($25.5 million) to the government’s Code 91 and 92–also emergency funds–were reasons for concern raised by lawmakers. The budget for the fiscal year 1400 (2021) that was submitted to the parliament by the government estimated a total of Afs452 billion ($5.8 billion) for this fiscal year.