Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

Why Repeated Controversies Over National Budget?

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Why Repeated Controversies  Over National Budget?

As previous years, the 1400 (2021) budget have also rejected due to being imbalanced and unfair. In fact, the imbalanced budget is one of the most serious issues which every year causes tough debates and controversies. However, such controversies are usual in democracies, but it seems more serious issue in Afghanistan. Every year, the budget is prepared and presented by the ministry of finance but it is rejected by parliament due to the same reasons as mentioned. In addition to the mentioned chorionic issue, there are also some other problems which reportedly counted up to 17 issues such as large amount of budgets allocated to the presidency operational offices, removal of rural road construction program from the Ministry of Rural Development, removal of provincial projects and budget annexes, increase in the  precautionary codes, disagreement on a specific time to review the budget for the fiscal year, disagreement of the ministry of finance to standardize concessional salaries, disagreement to solve the budget regulatory problems, insufficient development budget, inclusion of new budget units without parliamentary approval in the national budget and many more alike.
According to the critics, the serious and every year problem of budget is its imbalanced and discriminatory dimensions. Whenever, the imbalanced budget is faced with criticism of people and people’s representatives, the ministry of finance tactically adds some dream annexes in the budget to silence the people but later remove it. Now, the main questions of people’s representatives are same issue why the provincial projects and annexes are removed from the budget document. Despite having monitoring mechanisms such as parliament, why the matter of balanced development remained as a dream after 20 years. According to transparency Watch officials, neither the government nor the people’s representatives are honest about balancing budget as they will not stay committed to their own criticism. As it says, this is about eleven years that the issue of imbalanced budget has been raised by the representatives, but no year has resulted in a budget balance. After entering into bargaining with the ministry of finance and the government, they will re-approve the budget with minor changes, “The experience of the last ten years shows that this year, too, the budget will not be seriously amended and will be approved by the parliament with minor changes.”
The next budget issue is low public participation in designing national budget. According to Moh Ali Akhalqi, the representatives of Ghazni province, the Ghazni people are not in picture of designing national budget. This is about two decades that the people of Jaghori and Malistan ask government to asphalt the public roads between Jaghori and Ghazni but it is not heard. In recent weeks, 21 passengers of Jaghori have taken hostage because of no asphalted roads while there is no one to hear the voice of these deprived people. Same is the case with other parts of central areas while there are no internal barriers against implementation of government projects. Therefore, if we believe in justice and democracy, we should not deprive these people from development projects. If the ministry of finance is not willing to escape from transparency, it should not be afraid of public participation in designing national budget. In democratic system, people should have a clear role in planning, spending and implementation of the budget.
Accordingly, the media and civil society groups should be deeply, not superficially, involved in budget making process. They must advocate the government to establish and implement international-standard mechanisms through which the government allocate fair budget to ensure the best practices and development of the country. In fact, the participation of media, civil society and people will play a strong deterrent role for wasting more time in budget approval process and also abuses from the national resources. The public opinion is a very fair judge when there are controversies between legislative and government over such issues. Therefore, the public participation has to be significantly improved to reflect people’s views, needs and demands, the watchdog suggests, adding that this will also decrease the role of political actors, improve effectiveness and will help better implementation of projects through people’s buy-in and ownership.
As pointed out, the third chronic issue is allocating large amount of money in the contingency codes. Last year, it caused widespread scandals in the country deepening distance between government and people because of allegedly corruption. Legally, it is not allowed to allocate more than 3% but it was about 2 billion Afghanis. Unfortunately, similar mistakes are identified in the current budget. According to experts, the contingency codes are not as transparent as other codes and thus are more prone to corruption. The minimum consequences of corruption include wasting national funds, breaking the law, increasing the distance between government and people, intensifying internal strife, promoting violence culture and formalize extremely weak and inefficient public institutions. Therefore, the national budget must be designed in the way to extremely minimize the abuse from the national resources. Much of the national budget is financed from national income, and so must be used in the right way and for the right purposes.
In general, the national budget is the most important document to build or destroy the country. If the budget is not properly built in a balanced way, we should not expect to overcome the increasing issues such as corruption, inflation, unemployment, migration, social crimes, poverty and many other issues that worsen the country economy and development. Thus, the national unity is not possible without having a balanced developed society. In today’s era, no one can hide the development of one part of the country with deprivation of the others. Eventually, people will understand but then it damages the national oneness creating opportunity for enemies to misuse from public dissatisfactions. Therefore, the ministry of finance should establish and implement a proper mechanism ensuring budget transparency, justice, accountability.

 

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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