This week, Brussels will host a conference committed to Afghanistan, at which donor countries are accepted to pledge more than $3 billion to Afghanistan. United Nations Secretary Accepted Ban Ki-moon said that he would try to allure added aid for Afghanistan.
Will added money and aid abode the problems in Afghanistan? Or it will pave the way for added corruption?
A abode from the U.S. special ambassador accepted for Afghanistan about-face (SIGAR) on September 14 acerb criticized Washington for cloudburst billions of dollars into Afghanistan with so little blank that it fueled a adeptness of “rampant corruption” and debilitated the U.S. mission.
Plagued by abiding wars for three decades, Afghanistan avalanche at the basal of Transparency International’s Bribery Perception index. Afghanistan ranked 166th out of 168 countries, topping alone North Korea and Somalia, in the 2015 index. Bribery is one of the best constant accommodation begin in Afghanistan. From the aristocratic chic to the grassroots level, bribery permeates about all aspects of Afghan society. Endemic bribery in Afghanistan, a donor aid abased country, has the accommodation to derail the country’s approaching advance prospects.
Over the accomplished decade Afghanistan has acquired into a kleptocracy, in which the government is self-organized for officials’ enrichment. Powerful elites and the mafia accept blocked efforts to annihilate this kleptocracy. Meanwhile, the United States and all-embracing association accept broadly bootless to accomplish alternate accountability that will advice accord with the botheration of corruption.
Perhaps the best arrant archetype is the Kabul Coffer scandal, which bankrupt in 2011. Hundreds of millions of dollars were stolen. The scandal, “the better per capita artifice in history,” had astringent political and bread-and-er after-effects that triggered the freezing of a cogent allocation of all-embracing aid to Afghanistan.
The Kabul Coffer Scandal
Kabul Coffer was Afghanistan’s better clandestine bank, with affiliate deposits accretion $1.3 billion in the summer of 2010. The coffer conducted a massive artifice by creating apocryphal companies and accouterment them with loans; hundreds of millions of dollars were loaned to about 200 affected companies. This money was again doled out to Kabul Bank’s shareholders, Afghan elites including chiffonier ministers, businessmen, associates of parliament, warlords, and above government admiral and politicians. An analysis by an absolute anti-corruption board commissioned by the Afghan government begin that the admiral had baseborn an bulk agnate to about one-twelfth of the country’s GDP.
The best belled Kabul Coffer investments are in Dubai, area according to the then-chief controlling administrator of Kabul Bank, Khalilullah Ferozi, $160 actor was spent on 35 affluence villas on the Palm Jumerah. These villas were acclimated to absorb Afghan MPs and government admiral during their visits to Dubai.
After immense burden from the all-embracing association and ten months afterwards the Kabul Coffer aspersion began, the bank’s two top executives, Chairman Sherkhan Farnood and CEO Ferozi, were arrested. The scandal, admitting it bankrupt afore he took power, still poses a above analysis for President Ashraf Ghani. Ghni wants to appearance the all-embracing association and donors – a above antecedent of Afghanistan’s budget – that he is committed to angry corruption. In an account with SIGAR, Ghani predicted that his government would “make history” by convalescent the accessible money absent in the scandal. Ghani issued a decree ambience out a 45-day borderline for the accretion of the baseborn money from the Kabul Bank, which was acquiescently accustomed by the Afghans and all-embracing community.
But to the abruptness of many, admitting a presidential adjustment and the accepted administration’s claims to accept taken decisive activity in captivation the Kabul Coffer perpetrators accountable, Ferozi – who was bedevilled to 15 years in bastille – appeared with aerial akin authoritative admiral at the commencement commemoration of a acute burghal belt account $900 actor in November 2015.
Expectations were aerial that the new government would activity adjoin bribery but afterwards one year little has been done. The Kabul Coffer approval board was accustomed by a March 2015 presidential decree to attending into and advice dness the case. However, in June the administrator and agent administrator of the Kabul Coffer Approval Board were arrested for demography a $100,000 allurement from an bearding Kabul Coffer debtor to activity a adjustment payment. The Afghan government has been clumsy to bulldoze abounding claim from Farnood and Ferozi. Integrity Watch Afghanistan, a donor-supported absolute civilian association organization, abhorrent the Afghan government for defective the political will to abutment the Kabul Coffer Receivership and the Attorney General’s Appointment in their efforts to aggregate the debts.
The 2012 Tokyo Alternate Accountability Framework (TMAF) categorical the base for donor abutment to Afghanistan until September 2015, and accurately emphasized taking all accessible accomplish to antithesis the assets baseborn from Kabul Bank. However, the Afghan government has been clumsy to antithesis all of the baseborn money. The United States continually stresses that it will authority the Afghan government answerable to its promises to abode the advancing bribery including demography activity adjoin those amenable in burglary $925 actor from Kabul Bank. However, while some of the U.S. allotment through the $800 actor New Development Partnership with the Afghan government is angry to anti-corruption initiatives, none is absolutely conditioned on absolute the Kabul Coffer case.
International donors accept never showed abundant absorption in blame for 18-carat reforms in Afghanistan. However, initially, some accomplishments were taken in adjustment to put burden on the Afghan government to resolve the Kabul Coffer crisis. For instance, the United Kingdom’s Department for All-embracing Development autonomous to benumb $137.6 actor in contributions to the Afghanistan About-face Trust Fund, the capital aqueduct for all-embracing abetment to Afghanistan. The British aid bureau said that it was abhor to abide abetment to the armamentarium as connected as it remained cryptic whether the All-embracing Monetary Armamentarium (IMF) would abjure its abutment for aid to Afghanistan.
The IMF assured in its latest appraisal that while advance has been fabricated in Afghanistan on implementing macroeconomic behavior and a structural-reform agenda, Afghanistan’s abridgement is abased on government charge to these reforms, bigger aegis conditions, and connected donor support. According to IMF, beforehand coffer reforms are not advanced as bound as anticipated.
Lukewarm Anti-Corruption Reforms
Several types of anti-corruption organizations accept been created aural the Afghan government in adjustment to accompany ameliorate and accompany bribery cases. These organizations, such as the Aerial Appointment of Blank (HOO), accustomed all-embracing abetment but in abounding cases bootless to alive up to their promise. For example, USAID has appear that the HOO was dysfunctional, ineffective, and awful politicized.
The all-embracing association has accustomed a host of accountability measures, but best accept so far been abominably authentic and abominably enforced. For instance, admitting TMAF listed angry bribery as one of its babyminding indicators, the United States withheld alone $15 actor in 2014 back the Afghan government bootless to meet the TMAF claim to aggregate asset-declaration forms for chief Afghan government officials.
Likewise, the IMF was too adjustable and did not put abundant burden on Afghanistan for its poor achievement beneath the fund’s best contempo Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement, which provides abetment to countries with abiding antithesis of acquittal problems. The actuality of an accustomed ECF is important to the all-embracing association because it demonstrates the Afghan government’s political will to achieve all-important anti-corruption reforms. Afghanistan’s adeptness to attach to the IMF benchmarks and accomplish macroeconomic requirements was supposed to accept a absolute aftereffect on levels of adopted aid from the all-embracing association to the Afghanistan About-face Trust Fund.
And yet, while ECF reviews were adjourned and ahead agreed-to benchmarks and reforms were modified, the all-embracing association did not abuse to or absolutely abstain cogent amounts of funding. The ECF aloof assured quietly, after the apple assuming any above apropos about the Afghan government’s blood-warm admission to reforms. A nine-month IMF informal Staff Monitoring Program (with no absolute allotment incentives) assured in December 2015, with alloyed results. It is cryptic what the IMF, Apple Bank, or the all-embracing association intends to do next.
The Kabul Coffer crisis has accent a analytical charge to strengthen governance, aphorism of law, and able-bodied reforms in Afghanistan. Enforcing aphorism of law and babyminding are necessary preconditions for bread-and-er adherence and donor engagement. Inadequate administering by the Banking Administering Department of the Central Coffer and huge-scale corruption, accompanying with the abridgement of able accounting expertise, a abortion to chase all-embracing principles, and authoritative violations were the above affidavit for Kabul Bank’s collapse. The accepted administering should authorize blank mechanisms in ablaze of the absolute cyberbanking laws in adjustment to accept bound control.
There may be renewed achievement for a resolution to the case, however. Recently, Ghani requested SIGAR’s advice with his government’s efforts to repatriate the funds baseborn from Kabul Coffer by way of counterfeit loans, abnormally funds that accept been confused to the United States. He has asked SIGAR to become allotment of a new assignment force, which will be fabricated up of the Ministry of Finance, the Attorney General’s office, and the Kabul Coffer Asset Accretion Commission. According to SIGAR, beneath the planned adjustment the U.S. babysitter will have full admission to the accordant cyberbanking and banking records.
Afghanistan still lacks abounding able accoutrement acclimated in added countries in adjustment to action corruption, including monitoring and administering of adherence to the law and regulations, aegis of whistle-blowers and anti-bribery rules. The government of Afghanistan needs to analyze missing behavior and booty steps to authorize them. For instance, whistle-blowers can be able apparatus to analyze corruption, but Afghanistan still doesn’t accept a law to assure them. Similarly, the anti-money bed-making law and anti-terrorism law charge to be appropriately implemented to anticipate actionable banking activities, including those that armamentarium active groups.
Donors can advice by laying bottomward acute altitude for assistance. Donor altitude can accredit Afghan reformers to push through changes they ability not contrarily accept been able to apparatus due to resistance by base political elites. For instance, the United States, through a bilaterally adjourned acceding with the accepted Afghan administration, conditioned $20 actor of aid on a claim that government admiral acknowledge their assets. This action was annoyed in time for the December 2015 deadline. Similarly, all-embracing donors fabricated added acquirement accumulating a key ambition for the Afghan government. This action was accomplished through accretion acquirement accumulating in 2015. If the all-embracing association continues to set aerial standards for Afghanistan, the activity adjoin bribery will accept a acceptable boost.
Ahmad Shah Katawazai is a Political Administrator at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington D.C. Prior to that, he captivated positions in the Ministry of Adopted Affairs of Afghanistan, the United Nations Aegis Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 Technical Committee, and the OSCE Secretariat. The angle bidding in this allotment are his own.
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