Parliament Approves 2013 Budget

News - Afghanistan


Afghanistan's parliament on Sunday approved the budget for next year only four days after the majority of lawmakers voted against it.

The lower house previously contested the budget for Persian year 1392 (Mar 2013-Mar 2014) citing an "unequal distribution of funds" across provinces, a $70 million payment to Kabul Bank, and a large budget for the presidential palace that surpassed the combined allocations for the judiciary and legislature.

But on Sunday, lawmakers said the government redraft had addressed their concerns.

The total budget of 196.3 billion Afs (US$3.82bn) under the title of "normal budget" and 157.7 billion Afs (US$3.07bn) titled "development budget" was passed in a majority vote from the 130 lawmakers present.

It was previously rejected on January 16 and December 22.

Finance minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal told the MPs that the rejection of the budget over the $70 million to reduce capital debt in Kabul was misguided.

"The $70 million is to be considered for the central bank. This money is not for Kabul Bank. It will be saved in the government's budget to increase its capital," he said.

A number of MPs had also called for an increase in the total budget, however the total did not change.

The budget approval was met with criticism by some who still maintain the allocation of funds is not balanced.

"Today, not all the MPs were present. There is no balance concerned in this budget. This budget is approved based on some personal tastes," said MP Nazifa Zaki.

Meanwhile, the disagreement over the summons of 11 government ministers whose portfolios underspent their development budget last year continued.

Some MPs argue that the Speaker of the House Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi made deals with government ministers to have the matter dismissed.

"Mr. Ibrahimi, the head of the house, is a dealer and considers the 11 summoned ministers innocent by approving this budget," said MP Mohammad Naim Lalai Hamidzai.

MP Wajma Safi said, "The dealer [Ibrahimi] and traitor MPs approved the budget without considering the balance because the ministers gave ten thousand dollars to each of them last night."

Ibrahimi refused to comment to TOLOnews on the matter.

The approval came just before the parliament enters its winter vacation period for 44 days.

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