Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, Head of the European Union Delegation to Afghanistan, and Deputy Minister of Finance Khalid Payenda convened a consultative session on national budget reform in Afghanistan on 13 December 2017 at UNAMA Palace7.
This panel discussion provided the opportunity to engage in a substantial discussion about the vision for budget reform pursued by the Government of Afghanistan. The national budget FY1397/2018 – submitted to Parliament and deliberated by the Wolesi Jirga – was portrayed as an important milestone towards enhanced budget credibility and reliability.
The panellists included representatives from the Ministry of Finance, including Director General of Budget Mr. Zahid Hamdard, two distinguished Members of Parliament - Ms Shah Gul Rezai (Ghazni) and Eng. Kamal Safi (Kundoz), a representative from World Bank Mr. Taehyun Lee (Lead Country Economist), two representatives from Civil Society notably Ms. Kate Clark (Co-director of the Afghan Analyst Network) and Mr. Sayed Ikram Afzali (Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan), with participation of representatives from the international community.
The vivid and interactive discussion was kicked-off with Ambassador Mayaudon voicing his conviction that "The Government of Afghanistan has embarked on the important reform process of the national budget enhancing its credibility and transparency. A credible budget is a first requirement of effective public financial management. This draft budget for the FY1397/2018 indeed represents a very significant milestone in the reform process. However, it remains important to pursue this reform even further guided by an overarching strategic reform plan integrated with the on-going Public Finance Management Reform (FPIP) and overall Government's efforts for increased self-reliance and state building."
Deputy Minister Khalid Payenda reiterated that “Fiscal discipline and fiscal sustainability are key to self-reliance, and we have set a strong foundation for the 2018 proposed budget. In the medium-term, we aspire to move towards a pro-poor and pro-growth budget. We will continue to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the national budget.”
Beyond the technical reforms that aim to ensure alignment with international good practices and promote credibility and transparency as well as reduce vulnerability to corruption, it was discussed that it is equally important to ensure that 1) the budget reform and the underlying fiscal framework sustain the Government’s pursuit of increased self-reliance, state-building and overall peace-building in Afghanistan; 2) the national budget becomes the main vehicle for the implementation of the national development policies, notably the 2017-2021 Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) and the National Priority Programmes (NPPs) as presented at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan of 2016; and 3) the national budget prioritizes spending towards initiatives that spur sustainable & inclusive growth, jobs creation and the provision of basic services to the population – within the well-known fiscal constraints.
Moreover the International Community appreciates the Government's willingness to reinforce the role of democratic processes in national budgeting and budget execution, notably the oversight of Parliament, the oversight of the Supreme Audit Office SAO as well as the involvement of Civil Society.
The EU Delegation to Afghanistan confirmed its commitment to fully support the Government on this important reform trajectory, notably through the ongoing State Building Contract (SBC 2016-2018) that centrally encourages budget reform and other reforms aiming at increased domestic revenue mobilisation; support of PFM reform implementation through the ARTF Fiscal Sustainability Programme; support to the Supreme Audit Organisation SAO aiming at increasing scrutiny and oversight of public finances; and strategic policy dialogue in close partnership with the Government of Afghanistan and in full alignment with its policies and priorities.