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NUG Fails on Fighting Corruption, Spending Budget: Experts

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2016)

2Scores of political experts have stated the National Unity Government has failed to fight corruption significantly, saying the Afghan leaders would attend Brussels conference empty handed, amid officials in Presidential palace have confessed that corruption still remains as big barrier rooted in all over the Governmental departments.

Meanwhile officials in Ministry of Finance have also mentioned that the Ministries only could spend their 30 percent of the allocated development budgets during 9 months of the fiscal year.

One of the two key per conditions of the International community in London and Tokyo conferences for the continuation of the aids for Afghan Government were combating corruption and spending of the development budgets by the Governmental departments of Afghanistan, during the two years despite of dozen different cases were trailed, but few cases of corruption were reviewed.

President senior advisor in corruption affairs Sardar Mohammad Roshan said,” corruption has rooted deep in all the Governmental departments of Afghanistan, but the National council combating corruption office will not leave one corruption case without reviewing.”

The total amount of the common and development budgets for the Afghanistan Governmental departments allocated 455,5 billion Afghani where 293 billion Afghani goes to common budget and 162 billion goes to development budget for the current fiscal year, however Afghan Government had promised to the International community to have the allocated development budget up to 60 percent by coming the Brussels conference, this indicates that the Government has failed to do so.

Meanwhile Ministry of Finance Spokesman Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai said,” We have allocated 55 percent of the development budget and in general only 30 percent of the development budget has been consumed.”

Political experts believed that the National Unity Government of Afghanistan has not only failed to fight corruption but it could only spend the 30 percent of the development budget by 9 months, these two issue will discourage the International community to stop their financial aids for Afghanistan in Brussels conference.

Political expert Rahmatullah Bezhanpor said,” huge number of educated persons are jobless whereas that the Ministers in Governmental departments to spend their allocated budgets, this indicates their poor capability and weak points.”

World will witness the Brussels conference in 5th of Oct 2016 and the International community will once again announce their continuation of the aids to Afghanistan.

Reported by Ahmad Farshad Saleh

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Instagram bans ‘conversion therapy’ content as opposition grows

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(Last Updated On: July 11, 2020)

Instagram said on Friday it would block content that promotes so-called conversion therapy, which aims to alter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, as pressure to ban the practice grows.

The social media giant announced earlier this year it would no longer allow adverts for conversion therapy services, which can range from counseling and ‘praying away the gay’ to electric shocks and sexual violence.

“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s public policy director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa said in an emailed statement.

“(We) are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services.”

A spokesman for Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it would take time to update all policies and content flagged by users may not be removed immediately.

The United Nations independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity called last month for a global ban on conversion therapy, describing it as “cruel, inhumane and degrading”.

A growing number of countries – including the United States, Canada, Chile, and Mexico – are reviewing their laws. Brazil, Ecuador, and Malta have nationwide bans on conversion therapy, while Germany outlawed the treatment for minors in May.

Instagram’s move is “a step in the right direction, but we’d have to wait and see exactly what kind of actions they take,” Harry Hitchens, co-founder of the campaign group Ban Conversion Therapy, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ban Conversion Therapy sent an open letter yesterday to Britain’s Equalities Minister Liz Truss, urging her “to introduce a truly effective ban on conversion therapy for all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and gender diverse people in the UK”.

Among those who signed the letter were musicians Elton John and Dua Lipa and writer and actor Stephen Fry.

Truss pledged in May to ban conversion therapy for sexual orientation.

In a global survey of 1,641 survivors of conversion therapy published by the United Nations in May, 46% identified the perpetrators as being medical and mental health providers, while 19% were religious authorities and traditional healers.

Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian LGBT+ activist who underwent conversion therapy aged 16, welcomed the ban but said it had been “a long time coming”.

“What is missing for me in all of this conversation is the face of it, the horror of it. And I don’t care how terrible it is, people need to see it and see real human beings sharing their story in public,” he said.

 

Source: Reuters

 

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World Bank provides $200 million for Afghanistan to protect people, support businesses amid COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

In a statement released on Thursday, the World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

The Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant will support the government of Afghanistan to strengthen policies that promote faster recovery and keep basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and telecommunications afloat and running, the statement said.

“The program will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“Policy actions supported by the program will both help mitigate the impacts of the current crisis on the poor and vulnerable and also lay critical foundations for longer-term recovery. The World Bank will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan through this crisis,” Kerali added.

The World Bank said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant adverse health, social, and economic impacts in Afghanistan, shrinking the economy and driving down public revenue.

“The grant will support changes in regulations to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, protect healthcare workers, and raise awareness on gender-based violence in schools,” it stated.

The organization added that it will also support plans to encourage students to return to school when educational institutions are to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis.

It comes as the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 33,908 with 957 and 20,847 recoveries in Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan customs revenue lost to ’embezzlement’

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Although taxpayers pay customs duties at the Afghan customs, not all of the revenue being collected in the Afghan government’s account, local officials said.

The ports of Torkham in Nangarhar, Islam Qala in Herat, Hairatan in Balkh, Aqina in Faryab, Spin Boldak in Kandahar, Shirkhan Bandar in Kunduz, Angur Ada in Paktika and several other ports in the north and south of the country have witnessed widespread corruption.

In these ports, although custom fees are paid by taxpayers, little money is raised in government reserves, most of the ports are said to be in the hands of gunmen and the powerful.

Local officials in the provinces where the ports are located say that corruption in customs has recently peaked.

On the other hand, the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan criticizes the lack of administrative reforms, adding that unreasonable appointments have increased corruption in the country’s customs and that the government has not yet taken any steps to reform the process. According to the head of the institution, the current situation has led to organized corruption in customs.

The Ministry of Finance also promises to bring transparency to the country’s customs.

Finance Ministry spokesman Shamrooz Khan Masjidi said customs revenues are being closely monitored to prevent corruption.

Earlier, the governor of Herat said that Islam Qala’s revenue was being looted by mafia gangs and the warlords. According to economists, this is the case in most of the country’s customs.

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