KABUL (Pajhwok): Presidential advisor Mohammad Humayun Qayyumi is betraying Ashraf Ghani’s trust, sources alleged, claiming he has been abroad for 10 months but his office continues to receive all facilities.
Qayyumi, along with two other senior government officials, is accused of embezzling $719,000 in a wall-building project of the Afghan embassy in the United States.
A well-placed source told Pajhwok Afghan News that President Ghani appointed Qayyumi as his advisor on May 19, 2020. He approved the formation of a 40-member office with a budget of 37.2 million afghanis.
Without providing details of expenses, the source revealed Rafiqullah, head of Qayyumi’s office, was receiving 250,000 afghanis in monthly salary.
The source added: “He (Qayyumi) has been abroad for 10 months, His office remains open, but no one is working there.”
A Presidential Palace official confirmed that the Qayyumi-led advisory body was still working. However, the official did not elaborate.
A list of Ghani’s advisors has been posted on the Presidential Place website. Qayyumi’s name is included in the list.
Claims about Qayyumi’s corruption:
Syed Ahmad Shah Sadat, former minister of telecommunication, information and technology, wrote on his Facebook page on March 28 that Qayyumi betrayed the president’s confidence.
“When I was acting minister, Qayyum asked me one day to visit his office. He told me elections were held a year ago. But I have done nothing.
“You can find work in London, someone else will be given your position. I told him that’s right. One month later, another minister was appointed,” Sadat claimed.
He alleged Qayyumi’s objective was to make money. Later on, the ex-minister found out that Qayyumi had also sought money from a Kabul mayor, who offered the advisor $400,000.
But Qayyumi, according to Sadat, declined the offer and said he would not accept anything less than one million dollars from the municipality.
Sadat continued: “At a cabinet meeting, the president tasked us to create a 10 percent telecom tax system (real-time system) of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MoTIT), ATRA and the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of the economy minister.
“We prepared the documents. The project was announced under the leadership of [former] minister of economy Sattar Murad. At least 16 companies evinced an interest, and four of them were shortlisted after a technical and economic evaluation. One firm that won the bid had to implement the project at a cost of $6 million.”
Dr. Qayyumi, a trusted lieutenant of the president, has always been abusive and another example is that he signed a decree on the president in which the president wrote that the MoTIT should hand over the 10 percent tax system to an American company.” However, it was Qayyumi’s advice.
He claimed that Qayyumi awarded the project to a company that did not have any licence to operate in Afghanistan. Another firm had offered a bid of $6million for the implementation of the project. But Qayyumi insisted the project could not be executed for less than $13 million.
According to Sadat, the winning company was unable to enforce the project, which was again based on a sub-contract. An American firm awarded it to the company that offered $6 million and had been selected in the first round of bidding. The American firm, as a third party, received $7 million for doing nothing.
But Saeed Shinwari, spokesman for the telecommunication services agency, told Pajhwok the real-time project was a joint venture between the Ministry of Telecommunications and the National Procurement Authority. The project was handed over to ATRA several months ago.
“Regarding this, the Ministry of Communications and NPA can share accurate information with you,” Shinwari added.
Ramin Ayaz, the NPA spokesman, said the $18 million contract was initially expected to be signed by the Ministry of Telecommunications, but based on an assessment by NPA and NPC, the cost was lowered to $6.3 million.
However, he said, the value of the project, including taxes, was later increased to $11.1 million with the addition of some equipment and other components to it.
Sadat also wrote: “The Wakhan [fiber] project did not cost even $20 million. But Qayyumi insisted the project should be implemented at a cost of $50 million and introduced the executing company. This issue he had with former minister Aryubi. The Wakhan Fiber project has been delayed to this day for the same reason.”
Sadat said he had tried to meet the president on the issue but was unable to do so.
Nasratullah Nasrat Nasiri, spokesman for MoTIT, told Pajhwok the initial value of the real-time project was $10 million under Shahzada Aryubi’s ministry. Since the company chosen was foreign, a seven percent tax was levied on the project. As a result, the contract value also rose.
He explained: “The project for connecting the fiber optic via Wakhan corridor is being implemented by the Afghan Telecom Company.”
The news agency also approached Rafiqullah, the director of Qayyumi’s office, for comments. He, however, replied the advisor himself should respond.
Last week, Pajhwok shared the issue with Qayyumi via email, which he has not yet answered. By the same token, Ghani’s deputy spokesperson Fatima Murchal also refused to comment.