KABUL (TOLO News): Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, the acting minister of finance, addressed the Wolesi Jirga (the Afghan house of representatives) on Wednesday and stated that the government will distribute $300 million USD of aid funds in cash payments or food packages, instead of bread, to those in need.
“The World Bank and international community have agreed after discussions to provide us with other aid packages worth about $300 million,” said Arghandiwal.
The acting minister of finance, along with a number of other government officials, had been summoned to the Wolesi Jirga to answer questions regarding the matter.
The spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated economic challenges in the country.
The Afghan parliament’s finance and budget commission stated that due to the negative economic effects of the coronavirus, there is a deficit of 48 billion Afghanis projected in the current year’s budget.
“Of the 841 million afghanis proposed to the General Directorate of the Presidential Administration, 750 million of them will be transferred to the Ministry of Public Health in accordance with the decision of Wolesi Jirga’s joint meetings and permanent commissions.” Said Sayed Sayed Azim Kebarzani, the Secretary of the Finance and Budget Commission in the House of Representatives.
“Government officials are calling for approvals of budget adjustments in order to reduce the budget deficit and to allocate more money for the fight against coronavirus,” stated Jawed Safi, a member of the Finance and Budget Commission in the House of Representatives.
One of the adjustments proposed in this year’s budget is to borrow 17 billion afghanis from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) without any interest, but this has been not yet been either approved or rejected by the National Assembly due to the differences between the senate and the house of representatives.
“After the decision of a joint committee consisting of members from both houses, the budget adjustments should be submitted to the Wolesi Jirga for approval or rejection,” said Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the house of representatives.
Meanwhile, a number of parliament members have accused their colleagues of colluding with the government to approve the budget adjustments.
“Other members have already promised that they will approve the adjustments,” stated Hamayoun Shahedzada, a member of the parliament.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture says that 160 to 180 million dollars are earned annually from the country’s fruit and vegetable exports, but the closure of the country’s land and air borders due to the spread of coronavirus has raised concerns about the loss of this income.
Hashmatullah Ghafoori, deputy minister of agriculture, who is in contact with the parliament, spoke about the construction of 16,000 buildings in the country’s provinces that will create about 250,000 jobs.
“About 16,000 buildings will be constructed in 34 provinces, each of which will last at least ten years,” said Ghafoori.