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SIGAR finds over $2 billion in capital assets wasted in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found that of the nearly $7.8 billion in capital assets in Afghanistan, paid for by the US, about $2.4 billion in assets is unused, abandoned, or destroyed.

The report to Congress released on Monday morning summarizes all capital assets in Afghanistan paid for by US agencies that SIGAR found in its prior work to be “unused, not used for their intended purposes, deteriorated or destroyed.”

The capital assets reviewed were funded by the US Department of Defense, USAID, OPIC, and the State Department to build schools, prisons, a hotel, hospitals, roads, bridges, and Afghan military facilities.

The report stated that of the nearly $7.8 billion in capital assets reviewed in its prior reports, SIGAR identified about $2.4 billion in assets that were unused or abandoned, had not been used for their intended purposes, had deteriorated, or were destroyed.

SIGAR also found that more than $1.2 billion out of the $7.8 billion in assets were being used as intended, and only $343.2 million out of the $7.8 billion in assets were maintained in good condition.

Most of the capital assets not used properly or in disrepair or abandoned are directly related to US agencies not considering whether the Afghans wanted or needed the facilities, or whether the Afghan government had the financial ability and technical means to sustain them, the report read.

It also stated that this waste of taxpayer dollars occurred despite multiple laws stating that US agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources, and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively.

According to Special Inspector General John F. Sopko, “SIGAR’s work reveals a pattern of US agencies pouring too much money, too quickly, into a country too small to absorb it.”

“The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated, or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects.

“The lesson of all of this is two-fold. If the United States is going to pay for reconstruction or development in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world, first make certain the recipient wants it, needs it, and can sustain it. Secondly, make certain before you spend the money there is proper oversight to prevent this type of waste,” Sopko said.

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Illegal Iranian saffron in the country raises concerns

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Saffron producers in Herat province have voiced concerns over the practise of importing saffron from Iran, which they say lowers the price of the spice on local markets.

Abdul Shakoor, head of a saffron producing company, said they have over the years exported hundreds of kilograms of saffron annually but that there is a growing trend among traders to import the spice illegally from Iran.

“It is a betrayal to the nation,” said Abdul Shakoor.

This comes after producers recorded a 30 percent increase in saffron exports last year.

Herat saffron exporters union said they have not been able to prove that saffron is being smuggled from Iran into Afghanistan but said controls in this regard were lacking.

“Some amount of saffron might be imported from Iran and will be exported from Afghanistan, but it is very rare. Afghanistan produces saffron by itself and there is no need for Iranian saffron,” said Mohamad Uthman Ansari, head of Herat saffron exporters union.

“We are not able to prove [reports] who imports the saffron… one thing that we notice is poor management,” said Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of Afghanistan saffron producers union.

The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry said bringing saffron into Afghanistan is illegal.

Spokesman for the ministry, Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi said this week that action would be taken against anyone who brings saffron into the country illegally adding that Afghanistan’s saffron is the best in the world.

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Peshawar cardiology institute opens new unit for Afghan patients

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Afghan Counsellor General to Pakistan, Najibullah Ahmadzai on Monday inaugurated a Separate Counter at Peshawar Institute of Cardiology which will help Afghan patients get better and quicker treatment.

Speaking at the event, Ahmadzai welcomed the initiative and thanked the Khyber Pakhtun Khwa government for its role in the initiative. He also said he hoped the institute would continue to provide maximum facilities to Afghan patients.

Ahmadzai also said that countless Afghans visit Peshawar hospitals and clinics annually for medical treatment at established hospitals.

Professor Shahkar Ahmad Shah, CEO & Medical Director of the cardiology institute also addressed guests and said the hospital was also ready to help improve the skills of Afghan nurses and doctors.

He also said Afghan patients are treated at the hospital as equals.

According to him, already about 114 Afghan patients have been treated at the hospital in the past four months – including 11 who underwent open heart surgery.

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Ghani slams firms for shoddy work on development projects

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Monday criticized companies for substandard work on a number of development projects around the country and said this was “not satisfactory”.

Speaking at a development project event, Ghani said that proper attention was not being paid to the detail, resulting in shoddy work.

“Implementation of development projects affect the economy of the country; the relevant organizations must be careful about quality. Corruption must end, and transparency should be part of contracts,” said Ghani.
He also warned private companies that unless they deliver work of a high standard, the contracts will be withdrawn and handed over to government departments.

“The private companies should be careful about transparency in their contracts, otherwise all contracts will be given to government companies,” added Ghani.

In addition to this, Ghani, urged members of the public to monitor projects in order to avoid corruption.

Meanwhile, officials of the Ministry of Public Works, recently inaugurated 28 development projects worth more than 7.4 billion AFN.
The projects are:
1- Kandahar- Spin Boldak road
2- Danesh- Pol-e – Maghan road in Kapisa
3- A bridge in Company area of Kabul city
4- Road in Kama district of Nangarhar province
5- Kabul –Logar highway
6- Kabul Ring Road
The minister of public works, Najibullah Yamin meanwhile said on Monday that work on the key Kabul to Kandahar highway will start in the near future.
“Twenty two projects are currently underway in Kandahar. Survey of Kabul-Kandahar highway started this year and construction on it will start soon,” said Yamin.

Kabul’s mayor, Mohammad Daoud Sultanzoy also noted progress on Monday and said: “Bridge of Shina and Bridge of Pacha were inaugurated today (Monday). The project was funded from municipality development budget. Three million square meters of land has been taken back from warlords,” he said.

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