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91 code scandal; how millions of afghanis spent for personal causes?

91 Code Scandal

Government documents obtained by Kabul Now suggest that hundreds of millions of afghanis have been withdrawn from 91 policy code—a contingency government fund—and spent improperly, in some cases for personal purposes, in 1398 Fiscal Year. The finding by Kabul Now shows that a large amount of money have been spent to cover payments of houses, rented by government officials, armored vehicles, again rented for some officials, apartments, taken for officials and their relations, flight tickets, booked for them, medical treatment charges, welfare costs of some families, travel costs of officials and some individuals, bonus payments, salaries for newly created posts, administrative costs, cash paid for ceremonies held by political parties, cash and incentive aid for individuals, government officials, and people who are not working in the government. The findings indicate that a large amount of money deducted from contingency 91 code has been spent for unspecified targets under justification of “confidential expenses” in the 1398 Fiscal Year. Part of the contingency budget has been spent for building mosques, cover costs of the peace Loya Jirga, celebration of Independence Day, operational costs of the National Directorate of Security, travel costs of conflict resolution delegations, and other targets.

President Ghani has issued a total of 197 decrees while the then Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has issued a total of 95 decrees, authorizing withdrawal of millions of afghanis from the 91 Policy Code. 25 government organizations, dozens of individuals including President’s advisers, government employees, ambassadors, some families and individuals have received cash on basis of specified and unspecified purposes.

For instance, 15 well-known figures have received more than 123 billion afghanis for purposes of paying their rents, residential costs, travel expenses, purchasing armored vehicles and apartments, bonus payments, and costs of fuel for their vehicles. Among these figures, Waheed Omar, President’s Adviser, has received more than 30 million afghanis, Mohammad Omar Dawoodzai, President’s special envoy, has received more than 13 million and 500,000 afghanis, and Fazel Mahmood Fazli, former President’s adviser and the incumbent head of the Administrative Office of the President, has received more than 12 million and 900,000 afghanis for their personal purposes. Former President Hamid Karzai has received eleven million and 700,000 afghanis for his personal office expenses from the contingency fund.

Mohammad Afzal Ludin, Mohammad Rasul Talib, Abdul Ghafoor Lewal, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, Sami Hamid, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, Shahzad Gul Aryoubi, Sediq Sediqi, Faizullah Zaki, and Ghezal Haress are other figures who have received tens of millions of afghanis from the 91 Policy Code for personal expenses. Second Vice President Sarwar Danish has received more than five million afghanis for bonus payments to employees of his office.

And tens of millions of afghanis have been withdrawn from the contingency fund on decrees issued by President Ghani and then Chief Executive of the National Unity Government, Abdullah Abdullah, to cover mostly personal expenses of tens of other people, whether or not working for the government.

According to the findings, the then Chief Executive Abdullah has authorized withdrawal of a total of 17 million and 850,000 afghanis on decrees issued under justification of “in-cash aid” for some individuals and groups. The decrees issued by Mr. Abdullah introduces most of the aid recipients as “in-need and poor” people. Plus, President Ghani has authorized withdrawal of nearly four million afghanis as in-cash aid for some individuals and families from the contingency fund.

The two leaders of the then National Unity Government have paid nearly 44 million afghanis for individuals to purchase apartments, houses, and armored vehicles. The findings suggest that the President has separately allocated a minimum amount of 51 million afghanis to rent houses, armored vehicles, and residences for individuals’ personal uses.

A total of 25 government organizations have benefited from 91 policy code in 1398 Fiscal Year. Inter alia, General Directorate of the Administrative Office of the President, the National Directorate of Security, Office of the Chief Executive and Council of Ministers, and the National Security Council have respectively received the highest amounts from the 91 policy code.

Administrative Office of the President

A total of one billion and 131 million (1,131,000,000) afghanis have been debited from the 91 Policy Code, as per 111 decrees issued by President Ghani in 1398 fiscal year, for the Administrative Office of the President (AOP). This Office has recorded the highest amount of money withdrawn from the contingency fund in the fiscal year. Some payments are as follow:

Issuing the 2448 decree on January 09, 2019, President Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 11 million and 700,000 afghanis for office costs of the former president, Hamid Karzai. Based on President’s 1974 decree, issued on December 13, 2018, Mohammad Afzal Ludin, a military adviser to the President, has received one million and 580,000 afghanis as his house rent.

In his 2528 decree, issued on January 16, 2019, the President has paid nearly two million and 640,000 afghanis under justification of “cash gift” for 42 employees working at the office of his Adviser on Financial and Banking Affairs. The President has also paid 100,000 afghanis as cash aid for a woman named Muqaddasa to cure her child, via the Presidential decree 2678 issued on February 04, 2019.

In decree 2725 issued on February 10, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of 12 million and 436,000 afghanis to purchase two cars for Mohammad Omar Dawoodzai. In a separate decree (2982), issued on March 14, 2019, the President has again authorized withdrawal of one million and 125,000 afghanis from the contingency fund to rent armored vehicle and Hilux type vehicle for Mr. Dawoodzai.

Issuing decree 2520 on January 16, 2019, President Ghani has allocated 17 million and 450,000 afghanis to cover expenses for 501 guests. Though, no details is provided on who were the guests.

Based on decree 2810, issued on March 05, 2019, President Ghani has allocated one million and 200,000 afghanis for house rent of Wahid Omar, his adviser on public relations and strategic affairs. In another decree (2983), issued on March 14, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of two million and 603,500 (2,603,500) afghanis to rent armored vehicle for Mr. Omar. The President adviser has further received a total of two million afghanis to cover costs of his public visitors, authorized by the President’s decree 12, issued on March 23, 2019.

Issuing the decree 113 on March 31, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of two million and 251,000 afghanis to cover salary payments, visitors, and fuel costs of Faizullah Zaki, an Afghan ambassador.

In another case, the President has authorized withdrawal of 10 million afghanis for holding an event titled “Loy Kandahar” via his decree 2703, issued on February 07, 2019. The event, as explained in the decree, was attended by 200 artists and conjurers.

Following President Ghani’s 202 decree, issued on April 06, 2018, a total of 600,000 afghanis have been deducted from the contingency fund to cover “welfare costs” of Sharbat Gula family.

Based on Presidential decrees 1333 and 1334, issued on August 04, 2019, a total of two million and 300,000 afghanis has been deducted from the 91 Policy Code to pay residential rent for Sediq Sediqi, the President’s spokesperson.

As per the President’s decree 990, issued on July 07, 2019, two million and 915,000 afghanis has been deducted from the contingency fund to pay salary, visitor’s costs, and house rent of Shahzad Gul Aryoubi, Afghanistan ambassador to the Czech Republic.

In his decree 2437, the President has authorized a total of six million and 240,000 afghanis disbursement to pay bonus payment, visitor’s expenses, and house rent of Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, an appointed senator.

A total of five million (5,000,000) afghanis has been allocated for commemoration ceremony of the death anniversary of Ahmad Shah Masoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani, following the President’s decree 1528 issued on September 01, 2019.

The President’s decree 394, issued on April 25, 2019, has authorized withdrawal of one million and 80,000 afghanis for house rent of Sami Hamid, an adviser to the President. In another decree (1445), issued on August 17, 2019, the President has ordered withdrawal of 920,000 afghanis for house rent of Mr. Hamid.

In the decree 2326, issued on December 19, 2018, the President has paid more than 131,000 afghanis as in-cash aid for Allah Dad, who is identified as resident of Qaysar district of the northern Faryab province. The man has received the amount for purchasing a roundtrip flight ticket to Turkey for medical treatment of his daughter.

In the decree 1069, issued on July 08, 2019, the President has ordered deduction of five million and 788,000 afghanis under justification of salaries and bonus payments for six advisers to the Second Vice President, Sarwar Danish.

As per the decree 1774, issued on September 21, 2019, the President has authorized allocation of more than three million and 545,000 afghanis for salaries and bonus payments of employees working at the office of Shah Hussain Murtazawi, advisor to the President on cultural affairs.

Burhanuddin Hafiz, preacher and imam of the Presidential Palace’s mosque, has received 209,480 afghanis as in-cash aid to purchase a roundtrip flight ticket to Turkey. The disbursement has been made following the President’s decree 2092 issued on October 19, 2019.

In separate decrees, the President has authorized withdrawal of 100,000 afghanis for Farhad, a driver for the President’s adviser on borders and tribal affairs; 163,920 afghanis for Fariba Kargar, an employee at the Presidential Operational Unit; and 147,000 afghanis for Ahmad Jawid Khair Andish, deputy head of Transport and Technical department at the Office of the President. The target for disbursements made for the two later employees are set to be purchase roundtrip flight tickets to India.

Ahmad Jawad, a technical manager at Repair and Maintenance Directorate, has received 70,000 afghanis and Abdul Hamid, manager at the Presidential Palace special kitchen, has received 147,000 afghanis as in-cash aid. Hundreds of thousands afghanis have been withdrawn from the contingency fund under justification of “in-cash aid” for personal use in other cases.

Based on President’s 988 decree, a total of seven million and 700,000 afghanis has been paid to Abdul Ghafar Lewal to purchase armored vehicle. A total of one million and 620,000 afghanis has been withdrawn from the policy code to rent armored vehicle for Rasul Talib, President’s adviser on social affairs. The disbursement has been made following the President decree 1142 issued on July 15, 2019.

National Directorate of Security

Issuing 13 decrees, President Ghani has authorized withdrawal of more than 730 million afghanis for the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Inter alia, the President has allocated in three separate decrees a total of 125 million afghanis for “operational costs” to the NDS.

In his decree 802, issued on June 26, 2019, the President has ordered withdrawal of more than 68 million and 950,000 afghanis and allocated the amount for a commission – assigned to execute peace deal between the Afghan government and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The targets for other disbursements are not clear. Only in one other case, the target of the disbursement has been specified as for “confidential expenditures”.

Moreover, the Parliament’s commission on financial and budget affairs has found, reviewing the 1398 financial statements of the government, that the amount of money withdrawal from the 91 Policy Code and allocating it to “operational expenses” of the NDS is  a violation of the national budget expenditure plan. The budget expenditure plan stipulates that transferring money from budgetary funds to operational budget is not allowed. The operational budget is disbursable for the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, the National Directorate of Security, and for the National Security Council.

Office of the National Security Council

In nine decrees, the President has ordered withdrawal of more than 189 million and 209,000 afghanis for different purposes at the Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) from the 91 Policy Code. Inter alia, the President has allocated more than 10 million afghanis to purchase and cover maintenance costs of residential apartment of Mohammad Afzal Ludin, his adviser on military affairs. The amount has been deducted following the President’s 352 decree.

In another case, the President has ordered withdrawal of 16 million afghanis from the contingency fund to purchase a house for Maher Yaqoubi, head of counter-terrorism department at the Ministry of Interior.

In decree 1081, issued on July 18, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of 55 million afghanis to cover travel and accommodation costs of a conflict resolution commission.

The President has allocated more than 11 million and 560,000 afghanis to cover hajj pilgrimage costs of 50 family members of the “martyrs”.

In some cases, it is not clear for what purposes the amount of money withdrawn from 91 code have been spent. Some amount of money withdrawn from 91 policy code have been spent to cover costs of celebration of Independence Day, salaries, bonus payments for conflict resolution commission assigned to resolve disputes between the Afghan nomads or Kochis and the locals.

Office of the Chief Executive and Secretariat of Council of Ministers

Issuing 95 decrees, Abdullah, then the Chief Executive of the National Unity Government, has authorized withdrawal of more than 298 million and 900,000 afghanis from the Policy Code 91. The amount have been mostly paid to some “needy” people under justification of “aid” for specified and unspecified purposes. In 84 separate decrees, Abdullah has ordered withdrawal of more than 17 million and 851,000 afghanis as “in-cash” aid.

Government documents obtained by Kabul Now suggest that Abdullah has issued several decrees in a single day, authorizing the withdrawal of money from the contingency fund to provide in-cash aid for tens of people or for groups of people.

Issuing eight separate decrees (2619; 2620; 2605; 2610; 2459; 2535; 2583; and 2554) on February 12, 2019, Abdullah has authorized withdrawal of 405,000 afghanis for nine needy people as in-cash aid. The identity of the recipients is not, however, clear.

In another case and separate decree issued by the Chief Executive, he has ordered the withdrawal of 615,000 afghanis for 12 needy people. No details is provided whether who are the recipients and how they have been verified as entitled for the in-cash aid.

In decree 1058, issued on June 29, 2019, the Chief Executive has ordered withdrawal of 150,000 afghanis from contingency fund as in-cash aid for Mohammad Ismail son of Mohammad Zahir. The amount has been given to Ismail for medical treatment of his wife and children.

Abdullah has paid a total of 733,000 afghanis for 112 students from the north-eastern Badakhshan province and some “needy people” in several separate decrees issued on May 09. 2019. The purpose of amount withdrawn is not clear. Issuing two decrees (505 and 507) on May 05, 2019, the Chief Executive has ordered withdrawal of 900,000 afghanis for 35 students from Badakhshan and a needy man identified as Farooq Faizi.

In another decree issued on April 14, 2019, Abdullah has authorized withdrawal of 810,000 afghanis for building five mosques and providing in-cash aid for six needy people.

He has also ordered withdrawal of one million and 544,625 afghanis as in-cash aid for 44 needy people. This is not, however, clear who are the recipients and how they have been identified as “needy” people. The Chief Executive has authorized millions of afghanis for some unidentified people in other cases as in-cash aid.

The Chief Executive has also authorized withdrawal of a large amount of money from the 91 Policy Code to cover travel expenses, bonus payments of his office employees, and construction of mosques. For instance, in his trip to Uzbekistan to attend a meeting of Prime Ministers, Abdullah has ordered an amount of five million and 952,000 afghanis to cover expenses of his delegation trip to the country. The amount has been withdrawn, following the Chief Executive’s decree 1806 issued on October 15, 2019.

In another case, a total of 66 million and 480,000 afghanis has been withdrawn to pay bonus payments for employees of the Office of the Chief Executive, following the decree 2716 issued by Abdullah on January 23, 2019. Again, he has authorized a total of 44 million afghanis from the contingency fund to pay bonus payments for employees of his office.

As per the agreement that resulted in formation of the National Unity Government in 2014, Abdullah was authorized to independently spend 30 percent of the money allocated to the 91 Policy Code. The maximum amount of the contingency fund set and approved by the Parliament was one billion afghanis. Though Abdullah has spent all the 30 percent of the approved amount (one billion afghanis), President Ghani has increased the total amount of the fund to two billion and 830 million afghanis – an increase of one billion and 830 million afghanis. If the total money poured into the contingency fund is taken into account, Abdullah’s 30 percent share to authorize the budget spending should have mounted to 849 million afghanis. However, the Chief Executive has authorized withdrawal of nearly 300 million afghanis from the contingency fund.

 

Office of Chief of Staff to the President

Issuing 17 decrees, President Ghani has ordered withdrawal of more than 61 million and 830,000 afghanis from the 91 Policy Code to be spent at the Office of Chief of Staff to the President (OCSP).

In his decree 2115, issued on December 23, 2018, the President has authorized six million and 360,000 afghanis from the contingency fund to be paid for rent of an armored vehicle for acting head of his spokesperson’s office. In the decree 2609, the President has ordered a 300,000 afghanis payment for Mahmood Haqiqat. Issuing decree 2537, on February 02, 2019, President Ghani has ordered deduction of 69,000 afghanis from the contingency fund for purchasing a flight ticket for a person named Besmillah.

As ordered in the decree 2543, issued on February 04, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of more than three million and 783,000 afghanis to pay “salary” of Azizullah Afzali, Chairman of Afghanistan Cricket Board.

In another case, President Ghani has allowed a total of one million and 560,000 payment from the contingency fund to cover rental expenses of house for guests and visitors of the President’s special assistant. No detail is, however, available regarding who were the guests. Again, the President has ordered nearly 419,000 afghanis payment from the national fund to supply 17 needed items for the residence of Abdul Rahim, his special secretary. The disbursement has been made following the President’s 1327 decree, issued on August 01, 2019.

According the President’s decree 2149 issued on November 25, 2019, he has ordered deduction of 144,000 afghanis to be paid to a man named Sediqullah as “in-cash” aid. Hundreds of thousands afghanis have been splurged in the same way for other personal uses and unspecified purposes.

Other organizations

The President has ordered an additional withdrawal of nearly 357 million and 600,000 afghanis from the 91 Policy Code in different decrees to be spent in other government organizations. The agencies which have received these payments are as follow ordered based on the highest received amounts: Independent Directorate of Local Governance; Ministry of Urban Development; Ministry of Information and Culture; Ministry of Defense; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs; and other state agencies. Cases of allocations – worth millions of afghanis – for unspecified and confidential targets are found with regard to the contingency budget spending for these agencies too.

For instance, issuing the decree 1016 on May 12, 2019, the President has ordered around 14 million afghanis payment for haj pilgrimage of 23 individuals. The individuals who have received the amount are not, however, identified.

More than one million afghanis has been deducted from the contingency fund to pay a one-month “cash gift” for 156 employees of Kabul Ambulance. The amount has been paid following the President’s decree 1261, issued on July 27, 2019. In his decree 2309, issued on January 08, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of one million and 440,000 afghanis to pay house rent of Nasrin Oriakhel.

According to the findings, one million and 600,000 afghanis have been allocated to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation to purchase flight tickets for its 12 employees. Following the President’s decree 2805, a total of 500,000 afghanis has been withdrawn from the contingency code to be paid as in-cash aid to five judges.

In his decree 1872, issued on September 30, 2019, the President has ordered withdrawal of more than six million and 500,000 afghanis from the contingency fund to purchase apartment for descendants of a “martyr” named Hashmatullah. Following President’s decree, 1845 issued on October 06, 2019, the President has authorized a two million and 365,000 afghanis payment as “in-cash compensation” for unspecified target.

Arbitrary or proper; have government money been spent improperly?

Though the President has the authority to spend the budget allocated to the 91 Policy Code and 92 Emergency Code, spending the funds for other purposes and increasing its amount to a higher level than set by the Parliament has been always criticized by MPs, oversight bodies, media, and the citizens. Last year, Kabul Now published an investigative report on how President Ghani and Abdullah had misappropriated billions of money from the 91 Policy Code. Reviewing the annual financial statements of the government and the investigative report, MPs went further to accuse Ghani and Abdullah of “embezzlement” of the contingency funds. Some MPs even called for prosecution of President Ghani and then Chief Executive Abdullah.

Provoked by the investigative reports, the Parliament limited the maximum budget for the 91 Policy Code up to one billion afghanis and added a new exclusive article in the country’s budget expenditure plan on how the contingency fund should be spent in 1399 Fiscal Year.

In the fiscal year 1398, one billion afghanis were allocated to 91 policy code but the Ministry of Finance has syphoned a total of one billion and 830 million amount of money from other budgetary codes to the contingency fund without the Parliament’s approval. To provide a legal base for the money transfer, the Ministry says that it has been transferred to the contingency fund following President Ghani’s decrees.

However, Parliament’s committee for budget and financial affairs says that the government has violated budget expenditure plan in spending the contingency fund and allocating further money.

Sayed Azim Kebrzani, a member of the Parliament’s committee, told Kabul Now that they were trying to pass new law which bans arbitrary use of cash from contingency. He asserted that the 91 Policy Code was aimed at covering expenses of policy making for unexpected issues and its budget was limited.

President Ghani’s spokesperson, Sediq Sediqi, defended spending of the contingency fund, saying that all amount taken out of the 91 policy code have been spent for right purposes.  Though he acknowledged that the contingency fund was spent for house rents, purchasing armored vehicles, and as in-cash aid to officials and individuals, he did not provide a specific principle and official document allowing the expenditure.

Abusing the “policy” title, President Ghani uses the national budget for his personal purposes, argues Saifuddin Saihoon, an economic commentator. He went further to accuse President Ghani of exploiting the national budget for “enticing” and “bribing” some figures.

This story has been developed by Etilaat-e-Roz’s Layqat Layeq and translated into English by Mokhtar Yasa.

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