Afghan Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi participated in Open Budget Index launch to talk about fiscal reforms and improvements in the new 2018 budget
On Wednesday, January 31, Afghan Minister of Finance Eklil Hakimi joined a panel of international finance ministers at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC for the official launch of the 2017 Open Budget Survey prepared by the International Budget Partnership.
The analysis of Afghanistan’s 2017 national budget rendered a score of 49 out of 100, higher than the global average score of 42. Afghanistan was also ranked as having the second most transparent budget in the region this year, following Nepal.
Minister Hakimi compared this year’s score of 49 to the country’s score in 2008 of only 8 points. “This is an indication of the reforms,” said the Minister. He illustrated how dramatic the improvements have been over the years, recalling his first time working as an advisor in the Ministry of Finance just after the fall of the Taliban when all budgeting and transactions were done via paper.
Minister Hakimi spoke about the fiscal and anti-corruption reforms that have taken place over the past three years, which have allowed for increased transparency and accountability within the government. Afghanistan’s Public Financial Management system makes the budget transparent to the public, civil society, media and donors, and provides a road map for increased accountability and transparency over the next five years. The National Procurement Authority, a committee chaired by President Ashraf Ghani, makes the procurement process fully transparent, and all contracts are published online for the public to see. The Minister also mentioned the launch of Afghanistan National Strategy for Anti-Corruption as being critical in guiding the reforms across government, as well as important measures to engage citizens, such as the establishment of a citizens complaints line.
“We aren’t 100% there yet but the initiative has been taken,” he said. He concluded by crediting the government’s strategy for self-reliance for ensuring that the reforms will be institutionalized and sustained: “The more you rely on your own resources, the more you are committed to building your institutions.”
The Minister also spoke about the 2018 national budget, which was recently approved by the Afghan parliament, stating, “I proudly say that in 2018 for the first time ever we have a budget based on the best international practice.” It is the country’s first-ever fully transparent national budget that follows international standards, cuts corruption and ensures efficient and effective development. “For the first time, the budget is fully transparent”, writes the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN) about the new Afghan national budget.
Deputy Minister of Finance Khalid Payenda said the new budget is restructured to provide full disclosure of government-planned expenditure, which reassures the government’s commitment towards transparency and accountability. He also elaborated on the government’s efforts to engage civil society and the public in the budget formulation and implementation process.
“We were actively engaged with civil society organizations and the public this year to formulate the national budget. The draft subnational governance policy provides a mechanism to have the government, civil society, elected representatives and citizens consult with each other on addressing challenges through the national budget,” said Deputy Minister Payenda.
The panel in Washington was co-hosted by OxFam, and included panelists from OxFam, the International Monetary Fund, and the finance ministers of Mexico and Georgia. Read the full Open Budget Survey report here.