The Ministry of Finance of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan continues to appreciate the support and partnership of the international community, in particularly, of the Unites States as it seeks to carry on the work of rebuilding Afghanistan's institutions and infrastructure.
About the State Department’s statement of September 19, 2019 on the withholding of USD 60 million grants to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), and withdrawal of $100 million initially intended to fund large scale power project is being returned to the U.S Treasury, it is unfortunate that $100 million has been lost due to the delays in the implementation and lack of enough capacity in previous DABS management.
However, the decision on the withdrawal of the USD 100 million as a result of the various implementation delays in the projects for which the expiring funds were earmarked was made in February 2018 and the Ministry of Finance and Da Afghanistan Brishna Sherkat were informed about the unavailability of the mentioned amount.
Our international donors reserve the right to returning the expired funds to their treasury when not spent or saved from a project. Indeed, the specific project that this amount has been withdrawn from is an off-budget project. The Afghan government has been working closely with the State Department and USAID, a partnership that it deeply values, for the last several years on improving capacities and transparency and efficiency mechanisms for successful implementation of the development projects.
Separately, the Afghan government is aggressively increasing oversight of the types of large-scale infrastructure projects envisioned under both the national budget and through international funding to improve implementation timelines and hold accountable parties responsible for delays and mismanagement of these critical efforts.
On public financial management reforms, it remains the key priority for the government, and the government has showed good progress in achieving the reform indicators of the Incentive Program with the World Bank. Of the total 13 public finance related reform benchmarks under the Incentive Program managed by the World Bank, MoF has already achieved over 70 percent of the indicators. For the remaining benchmarks, we report good progress and remain on track to claim the USD 60 million withheld funds by mid-November 2019.
The Government of Afghanistan agrees with the US Department of Defense assessment shared by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund that corruption remains the top strategic threat to the success of development plans in Afghanistan. We seek the support of the international community to further improve our public financial management systems.