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Hullabaloo simmers after House passes next year’s budget bill

Some have taken umbrage at what they tout as unbalanced budget, slinging accusations on a few lawmakers to vote it through

AT News

KABUL: Afghan parliament on Wednesday passed the budget bill for the next year, igniting a firestorm of criticism and charges that the bill is drastically unbalanced and obscures need-based apportionment of funds and development projects to underprivileged provinces.

Despite government attempts to clean up its finances for next year, several disgruntled lawmakers hauled some of their colleagues into accusations of covert deals with the government and that they had been ceded projects to vote the budget through.

MP Shahpoor Hasanzai slammed the draft budget as corruption-riddled and preposterously unbalanced. He said, “I have credible information insinuating several lawmakers in clandestine deals with the government to get the draft bill approved, disregarding its balance and transparency”.

Another lawmaker, Ata Mohammad Dehqanpoor, argued his native province of Ghor had never been at the receiving end of an infrastructural project over the past 18 years. He said many people had taken to streets and shut down government offices in protest to the budget.

“Influential Parliament members have secured their benefits out of the budget and have no concern whatsoever about other poor provinces,” he said.

The intensity and breadth of the denunciations increased when Herat MP Hameedullah Haneef said that although the province contributes roughly $350,000 in customs and other revenues to the country’s GDP, Herat province is becoming subjected to prejudice as no substantial project is included in the budget.

Azim Mohseni, head of the House financial and budget committee, brushed off the accusations, saying that over 700 proposals have been handed over the government for budget allocation considerations. “Appropriation of budgets and projects is incumbent upon the Finance Ministry,” he said.

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