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Karzai Issues Decree on Govt Expenses

President Hamid Karzai

Kabul – Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued a decree to control expenses within government departments, requesting they put off purchases of deluxe and expensive equipment and where possible to use domestic products.

“All the ministries and government offices are required to economise the expenses of stationary, oil materials, repairs, and other expenditures, to avoid any unnecessary expense and above-standard per diems for trips out of the country, and to reduce expenses,” the decree states.

The use of high-expense items at government departments has been heavily criticised in the past especially because most of these products are mainly funded with budgets from the international community. However it is the first time that the president has so formally addressed it.

Karzai has commanded the Office of the Administrative Affairs, and Secretariat of Council of Ministers to review vehicle purchases at the ministries and other government departments, and also to monitor the implementation of this decree.

It is understood that the decree is focused on economising expenses and to support domestic products, but a number of analysts have doubts about its implementation.

“It’s a very nice decree but it’s been issued a bit late,” Sayed Massoud, economics teacher at Kabul University, said. “However, it will be a good if it is implemented, although I think it will be very hard to implement it under the current conditions. Maybe the commerce [ministry] will stand against it.”

“The Office of the Administrative Affairs and Secretariat of the Council of Ministers are committed to executing this decree. If someone is proven to be violating our evaluations, there will be no doubt this office will respond in a serious manner,” said Rafi Ferdaws, spokesman for Office of the Administrative Affairs, and Secretariat of Council of Ministers.

About half of the $7 billion budget for 1392 (2013-2014) approved by the parliament is funded by the international community- a clear sign of Afghanistan’s dependency on donor funds.

Karzai’s tougher stance may be triggered by the fear of donor funds reducing as international forces withdraw requiring a reduction in unnecessary costs such as expensive vehicles and furniture.

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