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Afghan Govt. Graft on the Rise, Corruption Monitor Says

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KABUL – Afghanistan’s main corruption sources at the government level are its income channels with around double the national income misappropriated in the past year, according to the independent anti-corruption watchdog. The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) said Sunday that corruption is on the rise with a study of the last six months showing that most of it stems from the national sources of income, mainly customs.

“Unfortunately, the largest amount of corruption is in departments from where the national incomes are collected, especially customs,” said Sima Ghani, head of the committee’s secretariat, at a press conference in Kabul. The MEC said the corruption within government organisations is actually on the rise, suggesting that there is a lack of commitment to fight the issue which has dogged the Afghan government.

“Each year, about 200 percent of the [national] income is embezzled,” Ghani added, indicating that the national income of around $1.5 billion per year has been eclipsed by the $3 billion believed to have been embezzled. The Ministry of Finance admitted the existence of the graft in the government but rejected the amount.

“It is correct. We admit there is corruption in customs because there will be theft and embezzlement where there is money, but it is not the amount the corruption monitoring committee has said. It is not acceptable,” said Najibullah Manali, adviser at Ministry of Finance. The MEC said it will release a report this week reflecting the inspections it has carried out regarding the implementation of President Hamid Karzai’s Decree 45, adding that it has sent 36 more suggestions to government organisations and the international community Sunday.

Karzai issued Decree 45 last July to fight corruption and bring administrative reform within the government departments after the international community tied the promise of its financial aid to the condition that more is done to combat graft. The MEC was formed in March 2010 by Karzai’s Decree 61. It is wholly independent from the government of Afghanistan and the international community and is comprised of six senior anti-corruption experts – three members appointed by the Afghan government and three appointed on the recommendation of the international community. (Tolonews)

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