US cuts $100 million in aid to Afghanistan, citing corruption

NEW YORK, Sep 20 (APP):The United States has said it is cutting back $160 million worth of aid to Afghanistan, accusing the Kabul government of rampant corruption less than 10 days before a crucial presidential election.

Faulting graft and malfeasance, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday that Washington is sending about $100 million back to US coffers that was earmarked for a large Afghan energy infrastructure project.

Pompeo cited “Afghan government corruption and financial mismanagement” for the decision due to Kabul’s “inability to transparently manage US government resources.”

An “off-budget” tool will instead be used by the United States to complete the infrastructure project.

An additional $60 million is being withheld in planned assistance because of murky Afghan public-procurement practices.

The move comes as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani seeks a second term in an election on September 28.

He has said that the Afghan government will only consider making a “legitimate” peace with the Taliban after the vote despite political uncertainty following the recent collapse of US-Taliban peace talks.

Afghanistan’s National Procurement Authority has failed “to meet benchmarks for transparency and accountability in public financial management,” Pompeo said.

Funding for Kabul’s Monitoring and Evaluation Committee “will cease” at the end of this year because it allegedly is “incapable of being a partner in the international effort to build a better future for the Afghan people.”
Since 2001, Afghanistan has received more than $93 billion in US assistance, according to the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Kabul has so far this year received nearly $600 million in aid from Washington.

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