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SIGAR finds Pentagon failed to control disbursement of Afghan defense force salary funds

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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2022)

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) issued a report this week in which it stated the Pentagon made $232 million in questionable salary payments to the former government of Afghanistan’s defense ministry personnel for fiscal year 2019 to May 2020.

SIGAR found that during this period, the US Defense Department (DoD) disbursed $232 million to the former Afghan government “for suspicious units and non-existent object codes, or [for salaries] that were never delivered to the bank accounts of MOD personnel.”

The report notes that these payments were calculated outside of the Afghan Personnel and Pay System (APPS) software system, which was put in place to prevent corruption and promote transparency regarding payments to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

The Pentagon reported spending $64.8 million on the software system.

Specifically, SIGAR found that at least $191.9 million in funds for salaries was disbursed but calculated outside of APPS, in addition to disbursing over $40.1 million more for salaries than what was supported by the APPS documentation.

This occurred because the DoD did not use APPS to manage all aspects of the MoD payroll process, did not implement internal controls, and did not use all of the authorities

granted to it to oversee the distribution of salary funds.

The United States provided more than $3 billion annually to support the former Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

Of this $3 billion, more than $750 million paid the salaries of personnel at the Ministries of Defense (MOD) and Interior Affairs, respectively.

The objective of this audit was to determine the extent to which DoD, from 2019 through May 2021, provided accountability and oversight of the funds that DoD provided to the former Afghan government to pay the salaries of MoD personnel.

In an overview of the report to Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, SIGAR’s Inspector General John Sopko said the improper payments of MoD salaries persisted following the implementation of APPS.

“Additionally, systemic gaps persisted that may have included enabling corrupt individuals to collect multiple salaries by creating fictitious records in APPS, inflated MoD personnel numbers, or MoD personnel not receiving their salaries,” he said.

“The findings of this report demonstrate core deficiencies related to MoD pay and the continued exposure of funds intended for salaries to corruption, diversion, and pilferage. Furthermore, our findings provide clear indications that MoD strength numbers in APPS were unreliable and misrepresented force capabilities,” he stated.

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UN emphasizes the importance of aid for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that the distribution of cash aid to the needy is very important during this year’s extremely harsh winter.

The spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Afghanistan Caroline Gluck says that in this cold winter, it is very important to distribute cash aid to the needy in Afghanistan.

Gluck, who visited Bamyan province recently, says that Afghanistan has faced one of the worst winters in many years and the needs of the people are very high.

She said the distribution of cash will help people sort out their needs during the cold weather.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that in 2023, the number of people in need in Afghanistan will reach more than 28 million.

Weather reports have put the minimum temperatures in a number of provinces across the country over the past three weeks at between minus 16 degrees Celsius and minus 30 degrees Celsius.

This record-cold winter has left well over 150 people and an estimated 200,000 livestock dead this month.

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UN deputy chief hopeful the IEA will lift restrictions on women

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)

Amina Mohammad, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, has said that after meeting with some Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials she is hopeful that authorities could ease restrictions on women and girls.

In an interview with CNN, Mohammad, who visited Afghanistan earlier this month, was asked if she had any hope about IEA lifting restrictions on women and girls.

She replied: “Yes, I do. It was tough going in. But I feel now it is doable, looking at all the players and seeing some fissures within the Taliban (IEA), I think this is possible. We also had a few exceptions since then. So, yes there is hope.”

Amina said that there are differences of opinions within IEA in terms of carrying of edicts coming from Kandahar.

“I don’t think there is any change from their consolidation around that power base, but there is, in terms of carrying out some of these edicts, differences of opinions,” she said.

“I think in our visit, the recognition mattered. It was very clear that the humanitarian response that the international community was giving was really important. So we have some leverage and I think that is what we are trying to see, what is state of play in reality on ground,” Amina said.

Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, said that when she asked IEA officials about the “further notice” in their decrees, they replied: “We need to build infrastructure, we need to build schools, we need to train the teachers, we need to change the curriculum for it to become less Western or actually not Western at all but Islamic and according to Sharia of what they believe they should learn.

“They believe women should only learn certain things about the Sharia and how to serve their husbands, families and their little community where they live,” she said.

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IEA welcomes World Bank report, urges resumption of incomplete projects

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Saturday welcomed the World Bank’s report issued this week and in turn called on the institution to resume incomplete projects that it had been working on in the country prior to the collapse of the former government.

The Office of Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs said in a statement that it welcomes all the “positive points based on objective facts” in the report, which was a clear indication of Afghanistan’s actual economic development and mobility.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes that if the current restrictions on Afghanistan’s banking sector are lifted and the frozen assets are released, the economic situation of the country will take faster steps towards improvement and stability, and the burden on the international community will be lessened,” the statement read.

Earlier this week the World Bank reported that the price of food and fuel in Afghanistan has decreased, the value of the Afghan currency has remained stable against foreign currencies, there has been a significant increase in exports, and the salaries of government employees have been paid on time. In addition, the report noted that national revenues had also increased.

The IEA also called on all international organizations to raise awareness of the real situation in Afghanistan by pointing out the advancements made in Afghanistan, particularly in the economic sphere.

The statement called on international aid agencies and organizations to finance development initiatives in Afghanistan that will lower unemployment and improve the country’s economic situation.

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