Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghans Call for More Effective Local Spending

Provincial needs ignored when budget allocations are decided by central government.
By IWPR staff

Afghan government spending at regional level should be focused on meeting real needs, according to local politicians and other residents of three northern provinces.

Speakers at IWPR  debates held in Badghis, Takhar and Kapisa provinces last month called on central government to pay closer attention to people’s needs.

“We are dissatisfied with budget expenditure in Takhar,” Mir Ahmad Qasim, a member of the provincial council here, said. “There is corruption here. The budget is not spent down completely, or else it gets spent on projects that aren’t vital for people.”

In both Kapisa and Takhar, speakers said more money should be earmarked specifically to improve women’s lives. During a debate in Mahmud-e Raqi, Kapisa’s administrative centre Ahmad Shah Khadem, head of National Television and Radio in the province, said the government had failed to conduct a proper assessment of needs in this area.

“The budget isn’t being spent where it should,” he said.

In Takhar, participants agreed that women were especially disadvantaged by the way resources were allocated, and called for 30 per cent of budgetary spending to be used to help them in areas like job creation, health and education.

Mohammad Qasem Fayaz, head of the financial department in the Takhar provincial government, said that there was no specific provision for women in the annual budget allocated by Kabul.

Asked by an audience member how the government spent its revenues, Fayaz replied that the money was used to pay teachers and other public-sector employees.

Ahmad Yasin Dehzad, head of the local journalists’ association, said that the provincial government in Takhar had failed to provide any information about its budget for the last 13 years.

In the Badghis debate, held in the provincial centre Qala-e Naw, speakers demanded that the government publicise details of the budget and for how funds were spent.

“Citizens have a right to access to information about the budget, and it is the government’s duty to provide it to us,” said civil society activist Abdul Sami Qaderi.

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of IWPR’s Afghan Youth and Elections programme.