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Editorial: Govt.’s financial scandal

In line with the modus operandi for money transactions and shifting of funds from one code to another, the approval from the parliament is required. However, some financial scandals which have recently broken show otherwise. Seemingly in compliance with presidential verbal orders, there have been huge payouts to the Ministry of Finance (MoF), especially its revenues department, from the Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) – two separate installments of 7 billion and 15 billion Afs – without the consent of the Parliament’s financial and budget committee. This is while the transaction document of 15 billion Afs has the signature of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which has, surprisingly, expressed unawareness about the issue. In addition, some high-placed government sources have revealed that due to scarcity of money to pay its employees, the government has yet again demanded 10 billion Afs from DAB, which is currently mulling over this request. These payouts have happened when, according to some public representatives, neither the Supreme Court nor the president has the authority to issue orders on money transactions. Meanwhile, one of the reasons the Wolesi Jirga rejected the expenditure report of the fiscal year 1397 last December was due to the shifting of funds without the parliament’s endorsement. Now there is the question that what the government should have done differently to avoid this scandal?

Public borrowing and debt isn’t something illegal or problematic. In a situation of fiscal deficit, governments usually borrow if their revenue is insufficient to pay for expenditure and the handiest source for that end is central banks. If a government runs a deficit, the money it borrows is added to the federal debt and it is the proper legal approach to do meet its needs. But one wonders why the government didn’t do so and is somehow circumventing the legitimate way and getting itself into a financial predicament? Critics and experts deem the transfer an effort by the MoF to report and show it has high revenues. Twist of the issue is that the government is reportedly facing a paucity of cash to pay the salaries of its employees. This is while roughly 50 percent of our country’s budget is provided by the international community and it seems that is inadequate. The government should know that the transfer of money and acquiring funds through this improper backchannel mechanism will lead to serious problems in the country’s financial assets. Moreover, there is a downside to the economy too because if the government borrows money from the central bank, less amount of money is left at the monetary reserves of DAB to lend it to banks and hence less money supply in the economy. The government has been badly damaged by this scandal and it should deal with it by answering to the people that why did it commit the violation and didn’t pursue legal channels. The government should provide accountability in this regard or it would lose the wee trust it has in the eyes of the Afghan masses.

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