Ismail Khan Retains Position as Energy Minister

News - Afghanistan


Minister of Energy and Water Mohammad Ismail Khan will retain his position in the government after the majority of parliamentarians voted for him to remain despite recent calls for his dismissal.

The push for Ismail Khan's impeachment was driven by his plan to form a private army of former mujahedeen fighters and his seeming inaction in matters related to his portfolio.

Ismail Khan was asked to explain his work in the energy sector in an appearance before parliament on Monday.

Lawmakers accused him of allowing his ministry to spend only 30 percent of its allocated budget in seven years when so much work in the energy and water sector were needed, as well as a lack of transparency in the projects.

"During the last seven years, less than thirty percent of Ministry of Energy and Water budget was spent. Low capacity in the ministry has caused the basic and infrastructures projects to not be done. We could have built several power plants in these past years," Kabul MP Shukria Barekzai said.

"The provincial budgets were not spent while the people were suffering from lack of electricity and water. None of the power plants were built in the past several years," MP Noor Akbari said.

"We have lots of river water in the provinces, but unfortunately there is no electricity. If the Kajaki power plant was reconstructed in the past years, the people of most of the eastern provinces would have had electricity," MP Mohammad Naim Lalai said, adding that more than 80 percent of the projects have been awarded to Iranian contractors.

Ismail Khan rejected the accusations.

"It's impossible to use all the river water in eight years, it will need billions of dollars which the finance ministry can't afford. Currently, 547 power plants have been studied but due to a lack of budget, the construction of only five of these plants is underway," Ismail Khan said.

After a public voting process, 141 lawmakers raised their green cards to re-elect him as the Energy and Water Minister while 32 others raised red cards to oppose him.

Last week, the Administrative Office said it had received signed letters from 55 lawmakers asking for him to be dismissed, citing the plans for a private militia as well as his work record as energy minister.

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