KABUL- In an expected move, the Wolesi Jirga -- lower house of Parliament -- on Monday accorded approval to the budget for the current fiscal year. The assembly twice rejected the budget due to various problems in the draft, on March 24 and April 25.
On Feb 8, Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal sent the draft budget to the Meshrano Jirga, or upper house, for approval. The senators passed and forwarded it to the Wolesi Jirga.
Although, the Ministry of Finance had asked MPs for quick approval, the lower house ignored the request. Several legislators protested what they called an unkind cut in the development spending.
The ordinary budget for the current year, as originally projected by the finance minister, is about 150 billion Afghanis ($3.29 billion) and the development outlay 74 billion Afghanis.
After being discussed by different parliamentary panels, the budget was re-presented to the house. But 86 of the 128 members present during the session on April 25 disapproved the accounts.
On Monday, 109 of the 150 MPs raised their green cards in approval of the budget.
The allocation for basic projects was 40 percent less than last year's funds and inequality among provinces were cited as main problems, said the finance commission head, Amir Khan Yar.
Another problem in the previous budget was providing $73 million to the Da Afghanistan Bank, he said. When the ministry resolved the problems the MPs had pointed out, the budget was okayed, Yar added.
The ordinary budget was increased by 30 percent, compared to last year's figures, Ministry of Finance spokesman Aziz Shams said. The reason behind the hike in this year's budget was the increased number of Afghan soldiers, police, teachers and martyrs.
In order to convince MPs to approve the budget, the number of some projects of the ministries of education, higher education, rural rehabilitation and development and transport and aviations was reduced, he said. (Pajhwok)