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Afghanistan biggest recipient of USAID assistance

Afghanistan biggest recipient of USAID assistance

Sep 17, 2015 - 20:41

KABUL (Pajhwok): The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says despite a decline in American assistance, Afghanistan received $850 million from the agency in 2015 --- the most in the world.

William Hammink, USAID mission director in Afghanistan, told Pajhwok Afghan News in an exclusive interview that despite a decline from $1.6 billion fund for Afghanistan in 2014 to $850 million in 2015, the country topped the agency’s aid recipients.

“Despite the withdrawal of most of foreign forces especially the American forces and the decline in foreign aid, our assistance for Afghanistan’s development remains the largest,” he added.

“Based on our analysis of Afghanistan’s needs we suggested the Congress to allocate $900 million for the next fiscal year that shows we are committed to aiding Afghanistan,” he remarked.

About the impact of USAID’s programmes on the lives of Afghans, he said: “Since 2002, the USAID has disbursed $16.54 billion for Afghanistan out of which $13.6 billion was off-budget assistance and the remaining on-budget.”

The allocated money, Hammink said, had been spent more on infrastructural projects, roads, health sector, energy, education, potable water projects, agriculture and strengthening private sector.

He clarified this amount had only been spent through USAID and did not include funds spent by the State Department or Department of Defense.

“Two weeks back at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul, representatives from the US and the international community presented a clear statement that they would stay in Afghanistan and would complete their commitments despite all the challenges.”

He said government employees’ low capacity to render services and implement major infrastructural projects, administrative corruption and insecurity were among the challenges in the way of their development programme.

Despite all these challenges, he said: “There has been progress in different sections. We see that the unity government is committed to bringing about reforms and the hiring process is in progress based on merit.”

Regarding Afghan government’s requests that international funds should be spent through Afghanistan budget, he said: “The donor countries in Tokyo conference promised that 50 percent of the funds would be spent through the country’s budget and we have delivered 48 to 49 percent on the promise.”

He said the more Afghanistan delivered on its promises of good governance and fighting corruption, the more funds would be spent through the government’s budget.

Regarding America’s federal watchdog Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction (SIGAR)’s report about existence of corruption in USAID’s aid delivery, the director said: The reports that we receive regarding waste of financial resources we immediately investigate them and those involved in such cases would be punished.”