On August 25, 2020, the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP), released the findings of the first cycle of “COVID-19 Budget Monitor in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar”. The monitoring was undertaken by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) and funded by UNDP and Danish Embassy. The purpose of this monitoring is to assess transparency and accountability in the process of allocation and spending of funds allocated to fight COVID-19.
The findings show that the Government of Afghanistan has made insufficient efforts to ensure transparency and effective spending of the COVID-19 relief funds. There are also concerns among civil society organizations about lack of access to oversight and external monitoring in the management of the funds earmarked under COVID-19.
Under the supervision of the Provincial Governor Office in each province, two committees have been established, a Purchasing Committee and a Monitoring Committee. The Purchasing Committee is authorized to request purchase of health equipment while its functions are monitored by the Monitoring Committee. Both committees have representatives from civil society, media and government. However, civil society organizations contend that the process is not sufficiently inclusive since representatives from youth councils and several other networks are missing from the process of monitoring.
Procedures have been established by the Ministry of Finance and Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) to procure medical supplies from single sources due to the emergency nature of COVID-19. However, it is not clear what criteria are used to assess the supplier’s efficiency, transparency and credibility.
Directorates of Public Health and Provincial Governor Offices have purchased health equipment including personal protective equipment, oxygen cylinders and ventilators. There is concern, however, over insufficient coordination among these entities.
The reporting mechanisms for allocation and expenditure of COVID-19 funds follow the existing reporting structure of local directorates to their line ministries and the Ministry of Finance. Local directorates submit activity reports to Provincial Governor Office and financial reporting is made to Mustofiats (Department of Finance). The reporting mechanisms for allocation and expenditure of funds need to be adjusted to allow more specific reporting in terms of asset purchase, management and reporting. Moreover, digital tools for monitoring and reporting have not been sufficiently utilized.
The following recommendations are based on an analysis of the data collected from government and non-government key informants the available data from secondary sources.
- Establish a mechanism to identify the needs and allocate funds in a timely manner.
- Establish comprehensive guidelines for local authorities prioritizing the anti-corruption and fiscal transparency measures.
- Establish reporting procedures based on performance and expected outcomes with measurable indicators to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the manner in which the local authorities allocate and disburse COVID-19 funds.
- Enhance coordination among Directorate of Public Health, Mustofiat and the provincial COVID-19 committees for the purchases related to COVID-19 to increase effectiveness in expenditure and mitigating duplication.
- Improve transparency and accountability through reporting publicly through online portals.
- Strengthen oversight during budget execution through audits by the Supreme Audit Office.
- Ensure continuous monitoring of COVID-19 relief funds through publicly elected bodies such as Provincial Councils.
- Mobilize and monitor the COVID-19 emergency relief process at the national and subnational levels.
- Strengthen transparency and accountability in the allocation and disbursement of COVID-19 relief funds by demanding that local authorities publish information related to the management of combating COVID-19 and accounting for the allocation and expenditure of earmarked funds.
- Introduce or re-activate coordination amongst international donors to strengthen COVID-19 response strategies.
- Conduct needs assessments and allocate international assistance based on the actual needs of the beneficiaries.
- Establish clear performance indicators and expected outcomes of COVID-19 emergency relief.
- Given the social and societal implications of poor medical supplies, private sector associations such Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries should ensure that its members comply with adequate degrees of transparency and integrity in the provision of public health goods and service.
- Increase awareness of the risk of COVID-19 and discourage unnecessary gatherings and close personal contact.
- Institute protocols for social distancing and hygiene during group prayers and other religious ceremonies.
For the full report, please visit: http://appro.org.af/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-09-02-COVID-19-Monitoring-Cycle-1.pdf
The National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) was established in March 2015 to serve as a policy advocacy and information-sharing platform for good governance. NAC-PP works closely with Provincial Advocacy Committees (PACs) and District Advocacy Committees (DACs) to coordinate advocacy and information sharing from district to national levels.
For more information on NAC-PP, please visit www.nac-pp.net or contact the NAC-PP Secretariat through Mr. Atiq Rahimi at email@example.com.
For more information on the Anti-Corruption Sub-Committee of NAC-PP, see: http://www.nac-pp.net/about-anti-corruption-sub-comittee/. On the Citizen’s Forum Against Corruption (CFAC), see http://www.nac-pp.net/about-cfac/