The Flawed Assessments of Reconstruction Projects
US top auditor in Afghanistan John Sopko has once again highlighted vulnerability of Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts after the US pulls out of the country by end of this year. The head of US auditing body for US aid in Afghanistan said Afghanistan would be lucky if it keeps the lights on after the US leaves behind a country with dozens of large-scale projects which are far from being completed. Earlier he had warned that Afghanistan will probably lose the hard-gained achievements of past unless corruption is curbed. Poor pre-implementation assessment of dozens of reconstruction projects along with pervasive corruption is potentially threatening sustainability of the underway reconstruction projects on which billions of dollars have been spent during last twelve years.
In recent years and months, all focus has been shifted to the ongoing political transition and presidential elections as well as talks with Taliban militants as the country is attempting to resume peace talks with the insurgent groups while going through two crucial processes of security and political transitions. The campaign against corruption is now a forgotten mission for both the government of Afghanistan and the international community whose crucial aid is being wasted in Afghanistan. The almost-failed campaign against corruption is contributing to the country’s failure to build good governance and boost the economy.
The same as the insurgency, the extensive corruption is undermining very existence of the Afghanistan’s good governance and political stability in the future. As Afghanistan’s real test for sustaining itself after NATO withdrawal by end of this year is whether it sustains economically, the country has largely failed in fighting corruption. According to the US top inspection authority in Afghanistan, the widespread corruption has affected all areas of government’s earnings, including customs and taxation, and it jeopardizes the Afghan government’s efforts to wean off the international aid in the coming years and even decades. Corruption is so pervasive and widespread that each year Afghan ordinary citizens pay billions of dollars in giving bribe to government officials.
Afghanistan’s hopes for self-dependency in financial areas and sustaining security forces along with its regular and development budgets is closely related with its ability to enhance good governance and accountability, since this would allow it to extract the highly-publicized mineral resources. The only viable way for Afghanistan to gain financial self-dependency is to extract mineral resources which are not possible without stemming corruption.
Despite the gloomy predictions, there is a ray of hope for Afghanistan to set a new course in fighting corruption and boost good governance. This year, Afghans turned out in large numbers to polling stations and voted for a new leader despite threats of the Taliban militant group. Of many things, what was clear was that Afghans wanted change. Change in leadership of the country and the way it fights with corruption and the insurgent groups. With the political transition going on in the country, Afghanistan will soon have a new leader and new government high-ranking officials. It is widely expected that the candidates fight corruption more resolutely because the people has provided the mandate for the new leader.