By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - The Afghan government has lost millions of dollars worth of planned U.S. assistance over alleged corruption surrounding the procurement decisions.
“Government institutions and leaders in Afghanistan must be transparent and accountable. We stand against those who exploit positions of power and influence to deprive people of the benefits of foreign assistance and a more prosperous future,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Twitter post late Thursday.
According to a statement issued by the U.S. State Department, due to “identified Afghan Government corruption and financial mismanagement”, Washington is returning approximately $100 million to the U.S. Treasury that was intended for a large energy infrastructure project.
“While we are still fulfilling our commitment to complete the project, which consists of five substations and other transmission infrastructure between Ghazni and Kandahar and Kajaki and Kandahar, we will be using a U.S. Government 'off-budget' mechanism given the Afghan government’s inability to transparently manage U.S. Government resources,” the statement said.
It added lack of transparency surrounding procurement decisions by Afghanistan’s National Procurement Authority is also great cause for concern.
“We will be withholding $60 million in planned assistance due to the government’s failure to meet benchmarks for transparency and accountability in public financial management,” the statement said.
This came days after U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass criticized the National Procurement Authority for not approving purchase of fuel of electricity.
“Hearing reports the National Procurement Authority won’t authorize fuel purchases for the power plant providing the only electricity in Kabul—even while the US & Resolute Support [US/NATO military mission] help Afghan security forces enable repairs to transmission lines. Could this be true,” Bass had said in a statement.
The Afghan government has not commented on the development.