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The Killid Group, August 4, 2015

Millions spent by minister

Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, the former minister of borders and tribal affairs, has spent 19 million Afs (315,150 USD) from the developmental budget allocated to the Khushal Khan High School located in Padola desert on a strategic plan.

By Nematullah Tanin

Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, the former minister of borders and tribal affairs, has spent 19 million Afs (315,150 USD) from the developmental budget allocated to the Khushal Khan High School located in Padola desert on a strategic plan. An investigation.

Documents and evidence collected by Killid show that the former minister, in the second quarter of the last fiscal year (March 21, 2014 to March 20, 2015) requested the budget department of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for money for a new project called strategic and research plan. First the ministry rejected the plan (document dated 26 Feb 2014), then approved the minister’s second proposal. After verifying the accuracy of the figures it agreed to pay for three months, expenses on seminars for the project, and suggested the remaining would be released after a mid-year assessment.

Mohammad Akram Khpalwak
Mohammad Akram Khpalwak. (Photo: TKG)

The ministry’s letter states, “Though we are in the second quarter of the fiscal year and we don’t have any financial possibilities for new requests but still for implementing of the project for a strategic plan and policy, as well as ensuring financial unity, the ministry agrees to approve the payment of three months salaries (40 percent of approved expenses for the Khushal Khan project, code number 460048 AFG) for supporting the staff of implementation of NTA project approved by the palace providing that the project of Khushal Khan complex is not faced with budgetary constraints."

There is evidence to show that staff recruitment, their salaries, consultants and researchers for the project were not in keeping with due process. In fact, the office of the tribal deputy minister Mohammad Yaqoob Ahmadzai in the Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs has claimed the project has achieved nothing. While the minister has called for the shutting down of the project, Khpalwak said his successor has requested its continuation because of its great use.

The Supreme Audit Office has also doubted its claimed success saying it has not so far received the project’s working report.

Recruitment

According to Ahmadzai, tribal deputy minister, salaries were disbursed to staff who sat idle. Also, none of the researchers or consultants ever submitted progress reports during their one-year mission. He points to consultants who received salaries while living abroad. They did not make even one personal appearance in the ministry after their recruitment, he claims.
The Killid Group, Aug. 1, 2015

Generally, hiring is done through the human resource departments of ministries but Ahmadzai says, “Nobody knows about the project. The recruitment of staff, implementation of project, monitoring are all under his Excellency, the minister. No one was allowed to interfere.”

Khpalwak, the former minister, rejects the accusation as baseless. He says staff recruitment for the research project was under the authority of MoF, which approved the project.

“We requested MoF to finance a countrywide project on strategy and research. MoF also approved our suggestion on the grounds of importance of project,” he says.

But Ziaulhaq Halimi who heads the budget review section in MoF clarifies the ministry only has authority to assess proposals and okay the budget, but recruitment of staff and paying salaries was the job of their respective offices.

Huge salaries

Documents available with Killid show some 52 project staff received monthly salaries of between 25,000 Afs (415 USD) and 250,000 Afs (4,147USD). Here is a list of names and salaries:

• Mujibullah Sulaimankhil, project manager, monthly salary 249,480 Afs (4,138 USD)

• Khushhal Rohith, senior advisor, monthly salary 240,800 Afs (3,994 USD).

• Abdul Bari Ibrahimi, the project coordinator, monthly salary 131,500 Afs (2,181 USD).

• Farhad, financial accountant, monthly salary 103,600 Afs (1,718 USD).

• Dawood Shah, provincial coordinator, monthly salary 131,600 Afs (2,182 USD).

• Qaribul Rahaman, head researcher, monthly salary 131,600 Afs.

• Abdul Saboor, head of monitoring and evaluation, monthly salary 131,600 Afs.

• Baseer Ahmad, head of relation, monthly salary 117,000 Afs (1,941 USD).

Of the remaining staff, six were getting 81,000 Afs (1,343 USD) each per month, 18 some 56,000 Afs (929 USD), two 39,000 Afs (647 USD) and 20 were getting 25,000 Afs (415 USD).

Though the Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs had requested the budget for a year from MoF, the former minister says that the staff was contracted first for six months but after the contracts expired they were extended for two additional months. There is evidence to prove the 52 staff on the rolls have been paid huge amounts of salary for eight months without accomplishing anything. Killid made many attempts to interview those who received money under the project but could not establish contact with Sulaiman Khil, the project manager, and Khushahl Rohi.

Also, the former borders and tribal affairs minister claimed ignorance about the total amount spent on salaries but Mohammad Hanan, head of the Supreme Audit Office, says 16 million Afs (265,391 USD) was released out of an allocated budget of 19 million Afs for the strategic plan project. Meanwhile, the budget for the Khushal Khan complex was 84 million Afs (1.3 billion USD) last year. The ministry received 23 million Afs (381,599 USD) and spent all but 2 million Afs (33,174 USD) on the construction of the administrative building as well as construction of dormitory.

Wage without work

According to Ahmadzai, tribal deputy minister, salaries were disbursed to staff who sat idle. Also, none of the researchers or consultants ever submitted progress reports during their one-year mission. He points to consultants who received salaries while living abroad. They did not make even one personal appearance in the ministry after their recruitment, he claims. Khpalwak, the previous minister, denies the charges and says all reports are available with the Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs.

Originally published on Aug. 1, 2015

Category: Corruption - Views: 2231