MPs absence at parliament sessions draws criticism

By: Lailuma Noori

The lawmakers’ absence in general sessions of the Lower House of Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) has drawn criticism inside and outside of the parliament. Some MPs believe that low attendance and lack of commitments among lawmakers have faced them with many problems, including suspending of key documents which need legislative approval.
MP Ramazan Bashardost expressed concern over lawmakers’ commitments towards general sessions, saying the house could not even approve a single law in the last three months.
Meanwhile another MP from western Herat Province Nahid Farid says that they have postponed their summer breaks to approve the midyear budget, but lawmakers’ absence has brought them with many problems. “Those not joining the general sessions should be questioned and punished,” she said.
In the beginning of the fiscal year 1398, some amount of 399 billion Afghanis was set aside as general and development expenses in the budget plan, but an increase of 24.9 million Afghanis had been made in the mid-year draft budget.
Some lawmakers on Saturday say that personal preference is part of the mid-year’s budget draft and until these problems did not settle the lawmakers may not approved the draft. Earlier, Wolesi Jirga rejected the mid-year draft budget over unspecified funding sources for the presidential election, allocation of funds for two new entities and reduction in budget for 154 development projects.
Meanwhile, Allah Gul Mujahid, a lawmaker from Kabul province, said multiple problems existed in the draft budget. He stresses the existing problems should be resolved in the draft budget to get the document approved.
He said the budget belonged to the nation, not government and termed the allocation of 700 million afghanis for the newly made State Ministry for Peace unjust. Mujahid said the High Peace Council spent $220 million on peace but has not achievement.
In early session, Mohammad Azim Mohsini, head of the finance and budgetary commission, said: “In the mid-year draft budget, five departments have extra organizations while the development budget is reduced. The budget of some units is decreased without any coordination with them and more money is considered for the department of president’s protection and VIP figures,” he added.
The draft budget also considered funds for departments which have recently been created but the parliament was yet to approve that, he said.
“The funding sources of the presidential election are unspecified which is another reason the mid-year draft budget should be rejected,” he added.
Zahid Hamdard, secretary ministry of finance, the budget of some institutions had been reduced due to the bad performance of their officials because they were unable to spend their development budget in the past six months.
Meanwhile, Shamroz Khan Masjidi, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, said not personal preferences embodied in the mid-year budget and said the document represented public interest.
In response of lawmakers remarks, he said every change in line with the law will be brought to the draft budget to ensure transparency and fairness.

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