Budget Rejected, Parliament Active in Last Days

The Afghan Parliament is more active following the controversial presidential elections. It has twice rejected some cabinet members, yet to be approved again, and other moves of the President including the last decree a couple of days ago regarding the election watchdog’s members’ appointment authority. The other day annual budget was rejected by a heavy majority of votes against it. Members said the budget was not fair in distribution of development funds to all provinces and it is discriminatory. Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal had presented the 115billion Afghanis budget for coming year.

The parliament has become overactive since last month. Things have been happening in a rift with President Karzai. I wish the current members were active during the last four years. Now that some months are remaining for elections, they are acting overactive. During the last four years, the house remained disorganized, divided, rubber-stamp and weak. Members were not seen once during the entire year in any session of the parliament. The parliamentary elections are coming soon, in September, and MPs have to go back to public for votes. This parliament approved the black “Rape Law” a.k.a “Shiite Personal Status Law” supported by the Iranian sponsored Mullah, Shiekh Asif Mohsini. These current MPs had hot discussion on drafting a law to ban makeup, jeans, long hair and couples talking in public. Now they are overreacting to hide their inefficient performance during this term. If MPs were active enough to block all the notorious moves of President Karzai and raise the national issues in parliament, there would have been much progress.

The budget rejection is the only wise action by this parliament. The budget is extremely discriminatory. With security on top priority, the budget had focused education and health as prime concerns. Out of the 41.5 billion total, 20.5 billion was set for education and 1.9 billion for health. But the development fund is extremely discriminatory for provinces. About $573 million of development fund was planned for five Southern provinces while the rest 29 provinces were given $502 million. For instance Badakhshan and Bamyan are the two most backward and isolated provinces of the country. In Bamyan there is only two kilometers of paved road. People in this province protested last year against discriminatory development.
The budget for 2010 is 18 billion more than last year’s 97billion. Though Afghanistan mainly depends on foreign aid for running its day to day Government affairs, but the most welcoming aspect of this year’s budget is that 65 percent of it would be from Government revenues and generation.

But a worst aspect has been the suggestions of including Zakat tax to be collected by State. A religious activity should not be imposed by the State as Law. Brining a religious duty into implementation by state is not a favorable move. If approved, then the Ministry of Finance will deduct the Zakat percentage from all Bank accounts, cut from salaries of Govt. employees and through Zakat offices. Its a direct interference in personal matters of a citizen by the State. It would also cause sectarian conflicts due to different rules of Sharia in different sects. The Sharia rules for spending of such religious tax are specific. People might stand against how the most corrupt Government of the world will spend their religious tax!

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