By: Shukria Kohistani
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has recently criticized the way of spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Afghanistan.
Over $2.4 billion in American taxpayers’ money has been wasted on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, a US watchdog said the other day.
The SIGAR highlighted the waste of US taxpayer dollars in a report, titled US-Funded Capital Assets in Afghanistan. Of the nearly $7.8 billion in capital assets reviewed in its prior reports, SIGAR identified about $2.4 billion in assets that were unused or abandoned, had not been used for their intended purposes, had deteriorated or were destroyed.
“By contrast, SIGAR found that more than $1.2 billion out of the $7.8 billion in assets were being used as intended and only $343.2 million out of the $7.8 billion in assets were maintained in good condition,” the watchdog added. SIGAR explained most of the capital assets not used properly or in disrepair or abandoned were directly related to US agencies not considering whether the Afghans wanted or needed the facilities, or whether the Afghan government had the financial ability and technical means to sustain them.
“This waste of taxpayer dollars occurred despite multiple laws stating that US agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources, and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively,” the report noted. “SIGAR’s work reveals a pattern of US agencies pouring too much money, too quickly, into a country too small to absorb it,” said Special Inspector General John F. Sopko. “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects,” he remarked.
If the United States was going to pay for reconstruction or development in Afghanistan, it should make certain the recipient needed it and could sustain it.
“Secondly, make certain before you spend the money there is proper oversight to prevent this type of waste,” the special inspector-general concluded.
Dawa Khan Minapal, the deputy spokesman of the President of Afghanistan said any foreign countries’ aids should be spent through the government channel. “The government position clear in this field. We have forever emphasized that the aids should be spent by the government of Afghanistan in order to be more transparent and we remain accountable.”
Ekram Afzali, Head of Afghanistan Transparency Organization has also said that most of foreign aids have been spent ineffectively. “Although some developments have been made, but the international aids had been spent not as effective as tangible,” he said. Most of hundreds of millions of US dollars in aids from the international agencies have been spent by either the governmental or non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan, experts said.
“War is still continuing, the fate of peace is not still clear and the international aids flown to Afghanistan was not effectively spent due to growing wars and insecurities in the country,” said Saifuddin Saihoon, an economic lecturer at the Kabul University.
Any uplift project stopped working was due to war and growing insecurity and instability, he said. Some other experts blame the international donors for contracting the projects with their own foreign companies. “Only 30 to 50 percent of the aids are spent, but the remaining exchanging through second and third hands return to the pocket of the donor countries.”