The House of Representatives, during a special session called for reviewing President Ashraf Ghani’s $244 million Dastarkhan Milli (National Dining Table) food aid programme, rejected it by a majority of votes on Tuesday.
The House had postponed their summer recess to especially review the programme after they complained that according to the law, they should have been informed about any amendments to the budget and development initiatives – especially one which costs $244 million.
Instead, Sayed Azim Kobarzani, secretary of the House’s Finance and Budget Commission, said they found out about the programme through the media. “We don’t know whether this money is spent on the budget or outside the budget, no information has been given to the Parliament.”
The members of parliament then called for a special session and summoned a representative from the Ministry of Finance to address the programme’s budget.
According to Kobarzani, the Deputy Minister of Finance’s explanations did not satisfy the House and in the subsequent vote, the majority rejected it.
The Ministry of Finance reported that the programme would actually cost $80 million and $36 million would be earmarked for transfers.
The reasons for rejection were the plan’s ineffectiveness.
The parliament instead, decided that the money would be better redirected towards development programmes.
The Dastarkhan Milli was supposed to reach out to 4.17 million families in Afghanistan and would have covered 90% of the country.
President Ashraf Ghani had launched it and assured the public that there would be no corruption in its implementation.
The programme would have been implemented in two phases, with the first once covering 123 districts and costing $86 million, and the second one covering 235 districts and costing $158 million.