Anti-Corruption Updates, April 2020

Kids in Helmand pose for a photo and smile in the midst of a country marred with conflict and corruption Photo credit: Meer Abdullah

Naser Timory, Integrity Watch Afghanistan

Anti-corruption strategy
The last National Anti-Corruption Strategy’s benchmarks period ended in December 2019. However, the next round of benchmarks has not been developed yet. The government initially decided to opt for a one-year Anti-Corruption Reform Accelerating Plan (RAP) to bridge the gap between the possible changes in the administration and to make time for an evaluation of the first and second phases of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy for the years 2018 and 2019. We know that government has removed the RAP but it has not explained what it will do in the interval between the evaluation and the third phase. The evaluation has been further slowed down by the COVID-19 emergency but may be completed by the end of 2020.

The Anti-Corruption Commission
The selection of the Anti-Corruption Commissioners is in its final stage. A four-member committee of two CSOs and two government representatives has completed the technical review stage of the applicants and is about to make a decision about the shortlisted fifteen candidates who would then be introduced to the President for final selection. The process has been halted due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The Ombudsperson’s Office
On February 25th, 2020 the Legislative Committee of the Cabinet referred the Ombudsperson Law back to a special committee led by the Ministry of Justice for review. The committee has not yet met and this process is expected to be further delayed by the COVID-19 emergency.

COVID-19 emergency funds
The government is revising its approved National Budget FY1399 (2020) in response to the COVID-19 emergency. There is no news of any public consultation with the National Assembly or civil society on this issue. Furthermore, the government has released their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for budget expenditure during the COVID-19 outbreak. The World Bank pledged $100 million, EU $117 million and the US $13 million to assist the government to fight COVID-19. While the SOP mentions civil society participation and access to information, there is no mention of any specific accountability mechanisms for this aid.