According to the data collated by The Killid Group, the Government’s Emergency Committee for Prevention of COVID-19, in addition to failing to distribute aids to the people in need, has spent some five million Afghanis of funds for other expenses rather than expenses related to combating the novel coronavirus.
Officials in the government’s emergency committee claim that of some AFG500 millions that were allotted for Kabul province to fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, five millions were spent only in awareness-raising campaigns and purchasing medical supplies.
But the Afghan Ministry of Finance (MoF) is confident that the AFG500 millions were allocated to focus on protecting economy against the newly emerged pandemic; nonetheless, for medical supplies and protective equipment, additional budgets were allotted to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
According to a document The Killid Group has accessed from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Afghan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has secured over AFG1.1 billion for medical equipment purchases as well as combating the infectious coronavirus.
Based on the evidence available, the data indicates that some AFG77 millions were given to the State Committee for Public Relations for Prevention of Coronavirus outbreak, out of which AFG27 millions had been spent on public awareness campaigns.
The residents of Kabul, civil organizations, and members of the Afghan House of Representatives (Wolesi Jirga), nevertheless, have expressed serious concerns over the possibility of corruptions in the government’s COVID-19 aids and budgets to fight against the pandemic.
The findings of The Killid Group based on interviews with officials in the Government’s Emergency Committee for Prevention of Coronvirus outbreak show that the committee, with more than a month of effort, has failed to compile a list of needy people in Kabul who were affected by the restrictions and curfews.
Likewise, the result of an interview conducted by The Killid Group with officials in the Municipality, the National Statistics and Information Authority, as well as the Provincial Governor Office indicates none of the above-mentioned authorities has a comprehensive list of in need people to bail them out during the lockdown/curfews.
The government’s emergency committee acknowledges that lack of a robust and systematic mechanism in the process of wheat distribution drive has been a challenge and has caused a fragmentation and proliferation in the delivery of assistance to the poor.
Spending: Where did the five million Afghanis go?
According to The Killid Group’s findings, despite separate budgets were allotted to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to purchase medical supplies and protective equipment and to the government’s emergency committee for the containment of the disease, yet the emergency committee has spent AFGs five millions of the allocated funds to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Officials in the emergency committee for the containment of coronavirus outbreak acknowledges that there are eight subcommittees that work within the guidelines established by the main committee. Health Committee, Information and Public-Awareness Committee, Monitoring and Control Committee, Assistance Committee, Finance Committee, Consumer Price Control Committee, and Security Committee are the subordinate committees within the framework, and each of them can use from the AFG500 millions of funds.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF), on the contrary, issues a denial to what was said, adding that the AFG500 millions of fund has been only allocated to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Shamrouz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, says in an interview with The Killid Group that the total AFG2.3 billions that also includes AFG500 millions, have been funded for protecting economy as well as humanitarian aids.
But Nasir Mehri, a spokesman for the provincial governor, acknowledges to The Killid Group reporter that of the total fund allotted, some five millions have been spent on public awareness measures.
Giving further details, Saifuddin Nizami, the Secretary-General of the emergency committee for the containment of coronavirus says that all the committee’s expenses are covered by the provincial budget.
Five million Afghanis have been spent not only for public-awareness campaigns, but also went toward purchasing medical equipment, he added.
Nevertheless, an evidence from MoF that The Killid Group has accessed shows that some AFG1.1 billions of funds have been allocated to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for demands for the intensive care units (ICUs) while some AFG77 millions allocated for public-awareness measures.
According to the document, more than AFG2.3 billions have been allotted for the provincial emergency committees across the country for the purpose of humanitarian assistance.
Coronavirus and corruption: Concerns over corruption risks in funds
The residents of Kabul, monitoring organizations, and members of the Afghan House of Representatives (Wolesi Jirga) express deep concerns over the possibility of corruptions in the government’s COVID-19 aids and budgets to fight against the pandemic.
Going back to the history of corruption in the government authorities, Khalida Alizadah, a resident of Kabul, is not sure if the money won’t be used to line corrupt pockets.
Likewise, the Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) is confident the funds allocated to fight against the coronavirus pandemic is at risk of corruption, adding that lack of Anti-corruption procedures and monitoring systems is one of the reasons to promote corruption and increases chances of misusing the allocated budget.
Nasir Taimori, an official in the Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) tells The Killid Group reporter that lack of clear processes and monitoring systems paves the way for a widespread corruption in the procurement and distribution of humanitarian assistance to the poor.
Members of the Afghan House of Representatives (Wolesi Jirga) similarly express concerns over the possibility of corruptions in the government’s COVID-19 aids and budgets as well as upon misusing the allocated funds to fight against the pandemic.
Jawid Saapai, a member of the Wolesi Jirga for Kunar province believes that by far there has been no efficient use of resources provided to combat the pandemic during nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, and any use of the budget indicates the existence of corruption on a widespread basis.
Kabul Governor Office that heads the emergency committee for the containment of the novel coronavirus denies the allegation of corruption in humanitarian aids, adding that efforts are underway to better prevent corruption in the city.
Nasir Mehri, a spokesman for the provincial governor office says in an interview with The Killid Group that the authority is preparing a comprehensive list of in need people to deliver aids to them.
Delay in assistance delivery and government’s inability to prepare a list of people in need
According to the findings of The Killid Group, more than a month has passed since efforts have been made to provide a list of people in need in Kabul to deliver assistance to them during the lockdown and curfews, but so far the emergency committee for the fight against coronavirus has not received the list.
Residents of the city and monitoring organizations raise deep concerns over the delays in delivery of assistance.
Seeking a score of residents’ views on the impact of the lockdown, Haroon Niazai, a resident of the capital, tells The Killid Group reporter that most of the Kabul’s residents are daily-wage workers and are unable to meet the cost of living and now have zero income.
According to him, a delay in delivering aids to the low-income families can cost their lives.
Meanwhile, members of the Wolesi Jirga assume that there has been no efficient use of resources provided to combat the pandemic across the country.
The emergency committee and relevant authorities, nevertheless, have faced a barrage of criticism by the Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) over a slow pace of these authorities functioning to fight the highly contagious coronavirus.
According to the agency, government’s failure in preparing a list of in need people shows their inability to combat the pandemic.
A delay in delivery of the life-saving aids that so many residents of Kabul depend on, put their lives at risk of being lost, said Nasir Taimori, an official in the Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA).
However, the Kabul Governor Office that heads the emergency committee for combating the coronvirus pandemic acknowledges that the agency in coordination with the Red Cross, National Statistics and Information Authority and the Kabul Municipality has been putting its efforts into preparing a unit list of the low-income families and poor people in the city.
Nasir Mehri, a spokesman for the Kabul governor tells The Killid Group reporter that the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) has begun conducting a survey on the basis of information collection request the Kabul Governor Office made.
According to him, in cooperation with the subordinate committees that are located in different areas of the capital and work under the office of Kabul governor, lists of lower-income residents have been prepared and efforts are underway to merge them.
In order to better reach the people under poverty line, the process of wheat distribution drive from the strategic reserves of the Ministry of Agriculture began, covering 160,000 eligible families, he adds.
He further adds in a thread, in case a list consisting of at least 300-500 families in need is made, the process of aid distribution and delivery will begin.
In the meantime, the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) says it will soon begin household surveys to better identify the eligible families.
Roina Shahabi, a spokeswoman for the National Statistics and Information Authority, in a written message acknowledges to The Killid Group that the result of the household surveys will be shared with the Independent Directorate of Local Governance.
The Kabul Municipality, in the meantime, speaks about the process of preparing lists of in need people began by officials in different areas, county representatives, and Mullah Imams across the city.
Nargis Momand, a spokeswoman for the city’s municipality, in an interview with The Killid Group said the process of preparing lists of eligible families and delivering aids will take place in coordination with civil society, Ulema, and provincial council.
Similarly, the Red Cross in Afghanistan speaks about its live-saving aids to the lower-income and in need families, saying the agency on the basis of prior surveys it had conducted, has a list of the in needs and will share it with the emergency committee.
Noor Agha Sahebzadah, a spokesperson for the Red Cross agency in Afghanistan acknowledges that the agency has a specific team for identifying in need families.
Lack of proper scheme/mechanism put in for distribution of wheat in Kabul
On the basis of findings by The Killid Group, the emergency committee for combating the coronavirus has begun the process of wheat distribution drive from the strategic reserves of the Ministry of Agriculture, but due to lack of a proper mechanism has faced to critical challenges.
According to the data collated by The Killid Group on the basis of interviews with officials in the emergency committee for the COVID-19, despite every family was set to be allotted at least 50 kg of wheat, due to lack of a comprehensive list of needy families, in most areas of the city, the 50 kg-packs were distributed among the poor.
Nasir Mehri, a spokesman for the provincial governor, says in an interview with The Killid Group that on the basis of emergency committee’s mechanism, lists of Kabul residents were prepared by the county representatives then confirmed by the Mullah Imams in different areas of the city.
As he maintains, the aforementioned lists didn’t represent the actual number of people in need of wheat—in most of the places, a single 50 kg-pack of wheat was distributed among several families, he continues.
Mehri further adds, some eight thousand metric tons of wheat have been distributed from the strategic reserves of the Ministry of Agriculture began, covering 160,000 eligible families.
According to the spokesman of the provincial governor, the process of wheat distribution is suspended, but it will be restarted once a unit list of the needy people is prepared.
The Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestocks (MoAIL), in addition, says it has some 24,000 metric tons of wheat in its strategic reserves to deliver to the people in need in the provinces where a lockdown/curfew is imposed.
Akbar Rustami, a spokesman for the ministry of agriculture says in an interview with The Killid Group that some 10,000 metric tons of the ministry’s strategic reserves is allocated for the capital city and is given to the emergency committee.
It is noteworthy that since more than a month, a lockdown has been imposed in Kabul city, yet the government has no comprehensive list of the lower-income and poor families to start the process of delivering assistance to them.
This report contributes to Beheshta Mohammadi, Rahila Yousofi and Killid’s Investigative TeamFollow TKG on Twitter & Facebook