MAIMANA (Pajhwok): Following a report by Pajhwok Afghan News on the removal of power cable extension projects in Almar and Qaisar districts from the draft budget for 2021, President Ashraf Ghani has directed the authorities concerned to take positive action.
Pajhwok has obtained documents showing the inclusion power line extension in the third draft budget of the current fiscal year. On January 24, 2021, Pajhwok had released a report on the withdrawal of funds for the power schemes in the 2021 budget.
Residents of the northwestern province said in the report the removal of Almar and Qaisar power transmission lines from the budget was against the promises the government had held out to them. They also warned of conducting civil movements if the decision was not reviewed.
Official letters from the Presidential Palace, whose copies have been obtained by this news agency, say President Ghani has instructed the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), the Ministry of Finance and other relevant authorities to investigate the matter.
In a letter, MoF says: “The president, after reviewing results of media reaction, ordered on January 24, 2021 that action should be taken on the matter and a report presented on the basis of the removal of the power transmission lines’ funds.”
Signed by Wali Khan Shabgir, a senior official at Ghani’s office, the letter sent to MoF reads: “Please submit a report as soon as possible, as recommended by the Presidential Palace.”
Report from MoF
In response to the letter, MoF wrote: “Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat has approved 20 million afghanis in the development budget in the middle of the fiscal year 1398. However, there was no significant progress in implementation of the project till the end of the year. The project was also approval in 1399.
“The power utility had estimated the project implementation cost at 2.6 million afghanis. But due to the budget deficit, the spread of coronavirus and funding restriction from optional sources, it is impossible to execute the plans in the current year budget.
“On the other hand, water management projects are a key priority for the government. Thus the budget committee decided that development projects should be funded through domestic revenue.”
“Therefore, the project was initially removed from the draft budget. But after the receipt of the presidential recommendation, the project has been included again in the 2021 budget,” the letter reads.
Resident welcome govt’s move
Syed Zainuddin Abidi, the civil society network head, welcomed the inclusion of Almar and Qaisar power transmission lines in the budget, “First, I would like to thank Pajhwok, a reliable media outlet, for highlighting important issues. Secondly, we thank the president for accepting requests from civil society activists and inhabitants of Faryab for incorporating the power projects in the budget and instructing the authorities concerned to launch practical work on them.”
Abidi added the commencement of work on the power projects in Almar and Qaisar districts had a positive impact on the local economy and people’s lives. He hoped this scheme, unlike the Almar Abgardan project, would not remain on paper only and officials would not forget the president’s directives.
He called insecurity in the country a key obstacle to the implementation of infrastructure projects and called on the Taliban not to impede the implementation of national projects and cooperate with executing agencies.