Hazrat Omer Zakhailwal, the Afghan Finance Minster, was summoned to the Senate on Sunday and asked to discuss the government’s budget draft for next year. He said the government was still dependent on foreign aid and unable to meet the financial needs of every province.

“Close to 100 percent of our budget is dependent on foreign aid…then how can this Ministry meet every need?” Zakhailwal asked.

Zakhailwal said that Afghan financial health was at risk because construction projects and investments were down, and continuing to decline.

“Construction projects have decreased; you can see that most of the construction work that was going on in the city has stopped now and investments are leaving Afghanistan as well,” he said. “It is very clear that this will impact the internal revenues of Afghanistan.”

His remarks appeared to confirm mounting fears that with the withdraw of the NATO coalition in 2014 would come challenges beyond security, and it would be the Afghan economy that suffers most as aid funding draws down and foreign development works close-up shop.

He said that due to the decline in foreign aid to Afghanistan in this year alone, the budget of a number of ministries will be lower in 2014 than in the past.

A number of Senators expressed concerns and said the budget for the upcoming year was not balanced, and that the Ministry of Finance must draft a new budget to propose.

Many have wrung their hands about the future of the Afghan economy, which has been propped up by foreign aid for over a decade. Still, however, in past years most ministries and other government offices have failed to spend most of their allocated money, so some belt-tightening may in fact be in order.

Tolonews.com