Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Lack of Oversight on Performance at Government Institutions Exacerbates the Sorry State of Governance & Public Services (Last Part)


Lack of Oversight on Performance at  Government Institutions Exacerbates the  Sorry State of Governance & Public Services  (Last Part)

Ministry of agriculture, ministry of women affairs, ministry of narcotics ministry of mines and minerals and Kabul Municipality are all Zombie bodies and need extensive oversight and overhaul in order to effect structural changes in these institutions. Agriculture is the backbone of Afghanistan’s economy. This sector employs more than seventy percent of rural population in the country. Keeping in mind the resources available, donor countries’ and donor organizations’ contributions in hundreds of millions of dollars during the last one decade, there is no visible improvement in agricultural sector. Despite availability of hundreds of acres of agricultural lands across the country, no major national plans have been produced and/or implemented to develop these lands. Also, farmers and landlords are eking out on meager resources that have at hands because they do not receive any kind of Government assistance or subsidy to compensate them for the hard work they endure to grow crops. This sector is at miserable state. Intervention by certain donor organizations or NGOs cannot be counted on at national level, as they provide assistance to hand-picked farmers and landowners. In addition, their intervention does not fit any larger Government plans or strategy. They have the budget to spend within certain timeframe in that sector. Therefore, these are spasmodic responses, which cannot have major, long term impact on farmers or agricultural produce.  The Government should put in place ‘money spent audit’ and ‘project impact and result audit’ in order to make this important institution responsible and able to deliver.
Ministry of Narcotics spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year, but it fails to curb on the output of narcotics. Insecurity and absence of law and order has been blamed by the concerned ministry for not being able to control the illegal crops. But there are many other ways to control or at least reduce growing narcotics by farmers. Introduction of considerable subsidy is one of the most effective means to apply and encourage farmers and landowners to grow conventional crops. It needs resolve and commitment on the part of leaders running ministry of narcotics to find ways to curb or bring complete stop on this crops. They need to work hard, take advantage of countries which successfully eradicated narcotics and smuggle of illegal drugs in all its forms, from their countries. Ministry of Narcotics should establish coordination body comprised of senior officials of ministry of agriculture, ministry of interior and ministry of narcotics, and work together to find effective ways to curb this illegal crops. Brining in knowledge, experience and execution power in the efforts can definitely yield results. 
The ministry of women affairs comfortably falls in the category of Zombie organizations. There are no visible improvements in women’s lives and the sector this ministry is working. Plight of women in Afghanistan continues to take toll on half the nation i.e. women. Ministry of women should have designed projects, educational programs, trainings and secure economic platforms for women to uplift their living standards. There are many countries – including People’s Republic of China – which leadership of this ministry can learn from and get advice concerning design and implementation of projects that can benefit women in Afghanistan. It is the responsibility of Government leaders and senior official to develop landscape of opportunities and vulnerabilities and develop programs and projects that can address the issues facing women in Afghanistan. This can be done by preparation and submittal of comprehensive proposals and plans, and present them to donor and international communities for funding. There is no such large scale enterprise undertaken by ministry officials, and this is truly, waste of time, resources and an effort to keep the status quo to drag on the present corrupt system, which would continue to benefit few and deprive large portion of masses from development projects. Afghanistan is one of the worst places for women around the globe. There are thousands of areas that need intervention in support of women’s living conditions, education, training and their awareness about their rights in society. Attending meetings at national and international levels and discussing plight of Afghan women is one of the smallest part of the job entrusted to ministry of women’s affairs. The real job is to get out in the field, establish coordination mechanism and cooperation with security organizations, human right organizations, office of the Attorney General and courts, local communities and civil society so that to level playing field for all parties to work towards projects that benefit women in the country.
Ministry of mines and minerals continues to drag on with old issues, and lack of strong leadership and new management in this ministry continue to take toll on overall economy of the country. It needs hard work and moving out of comfort zone on the part of the ministry leaders to develop attractive plans for investment in areas of mining, water and energy sector and iron ores etc. Ministry of mines should develop projects in support of training young students and graduates in the fields of mining so that human resources and knowledge house is already in place in the country. In order to do this, ministry officials should take advantage of the present scholarship opportunities that are offered by friendly countries and encourage students to specialize in areas of mining and petroleum. In addition, it is incumbent on ministry officials to level playing fields for development of mining and extract industry so that international, professional firms come and participate in the process of bidding and completion in the field. I have written another article few months ago, which mainly touches mining and construction industries (http://www.outlookafghanistan.net/topics.php?post_id=20888).
The press is one of the important pillars that keep democracy functioning in a country. It is the platform whereby people are informed about decisions made by government leaders that affect their lives, and also people can reach out to their representatives in government organizations through free press. But it seems no one in the government is concerned about these Op-Ed writings – at least my experience proves this. Like all other countries at war, Afghanistan has problems. But to solve these problems, or take remedial actions towards solution of governance and public services issues is not insurmountable. Afghanistan has legitimate government, strong international support and recognition, more than enough resources allocated to ministries and various government organizations, a functioning military and police force, improving judiciary and justice departments (courts and Office of the Attorney General), and a burgeoning private sector and meddle class in the making.  These are positive developments and the Government should build on these and move fast to improve and structurally change those institutions and ministries which are not performing.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

Go Top