Afghanistan minister rejects US corruption allegations

Afghanistan's Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal - 7 June 2010 Mr Zakhilwal said his government had little control over foreign aid money

Afghanistan's finance minister has rejected US allegations that government corruption is to blame for the loss of billions of dollars in aid money.

Omar Zakhilwal said foreign contractors were to blame for taking the bulk of $4bn (£2.6bn) that has reportedly left the country in recent years.

He said his government had little control over foreign aid money.

US lawmakers voted on Wednesday to cut almost $4bn (£2.6bn) in aid to the government of Afghanistan.

The vote followed a report in the Wall Street Journal claiming that US investigators believed "Afghan officials and their associates were sending billions of diverted US aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad".

Investigation call

Mr Zakhilwal said it was his ministry which revealed the money was leaving the country.

"We strongly believe that the bulk of this money is from the huge contracts that our international partners have given out directly to big companies, particularly private security companies, without any involvement from the Afghan government."

Mr Zakhilwal said his government wanted an international investigation to establish whose money it was that had been diverted out of the country.

He acknowledged that corruption was a problem in Afghanistan but said the government was best equipped to handle the distribution of aid.

"Aid money that is given through the government, the internationals who are here on the ground will tell you it's better managed by the government than managed outside."

The Afghan government received directly about 20% of the foreign aid that enters the country, says the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul.

US Congresswoman Nita Lowey, chair of the House of Representatives subcommittee responsible for aid appropriations, has demanded that an audit is carried out of billions of dollars of past funds.

She said that alleged corruption in the Afghan government made taxpayer money hard to justify.

The money could be reinstated in a few months, after a review of Kabul's efforts to tackle the issue.

The subcommittee has not cut military funds, which are to be debated in a separate bill.

More on This Story

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Reuters UK Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan warns of tough mission - 3 hrs ago
Channel 4 News General Petraeus arrives in Afghanistan - 19 hrs ago
Mail Online UK British civilian killed as Taliban suicide bombers storm his office in five-hour gun battle - 23 hrs ago
Sky News Rebels Storm Aid Compound In Afghanistan - 32 hrs ago
Foreign Policy Magazine House panel cuts $4 billion from State and foreign aid budget - 35 hrs ago

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More South Asia stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.