Afghanistan: US$300 Million in Aid Improperly Accounted For

The US$300 million provided annually by the US government for police officer salaries in Afghanistan is being inaccurately accounted for using a system that is open to corruption, a new report has found.

afghan pres croppedPresident Ashraf Ghani

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a US watchdog established to audit reconstruction funds in Afghanistan, said in today’s report that up to 20 percent of ANP officers may not be receiving full salaries due to a flawed payment process susceptible to fraud. That is because SIGAR said they are not paid directly but through a system of designated agents which doesn’t require the agent or the intended recipient to document when the payment is received.

SIGAR also found that police officer attendance was also not being properly recorded, leaving open the possibility that fictitious employees are being created by officials so they can funnel the salaries off for other uses. The report states that there are “as many as double the number of identification cards in circulation as there are active ANP personnel”.

Sarah Chayes, who spent seven years working on civil initiatives in Afghanistan and now runs an anti-corruption program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the report served to further establish “the degree of fecklessness that has characterized the delivery of support to Afghanistan by the United States.”

SIGAR’s report follows Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s appeal in December for increased independence in the distribution of international aid. Elected in September amid allegations of vote-rigging, Ghani has vowed a zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption – a promise that has not convinced all of his critics.

“There have been no efforts to combat corruption thus far,” said Chayes. “There is not even a cabinet. What we have seen from [President] Ashraf Ghani is words.”