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BLns in Afghan reconstruction funds at risk from poor monitoring - SIGAR

WASHINGTON, April 25 (KUNA) -- A new report by a Congress-appointed watchdog group warns billions of dollars in reconstruction funds for Afghanistan are at risk from poor oversight by the World Bank and the Afghan government.
According to an audit released Wednesday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), neither the World Bank or government of Afghanistan are adequately monitoring or accounting for billions in reconstruction cash flowing into the country through the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).
The ARTF, which comprises 34 donor nations and agencies and has contributed more than USD 10 billion to Afghanistan's reconstruction, but according to SIGAR, "Billions of dollars of donor funds contributed to the ARTF are at risk due to continued limitations on, and lack of transparency into, monitoring and accounting of ARTF funding by the World Bank and the government of Afghanistan." Among it's findings, the report noted donors are unable to specify where funds should go, resulting in some monies are being spent in regions controlled by the Taliban or other terrorist groups.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides the US contribution to the reconstruction fund, told SIGAR it is "no longer referencing funds by geographic location," the report noted.
SIGAR added that once the US or any other donor provides its contributions to the fund, "neither the World Bank nor USAID can account for how those funds are specifically spent." In response, the World Bank dismissed most of to the audit 's findings as "somewhat anecdotal, and do not fully take into account measures taken to improve the reporting on how funds are used." However the bank said it laid "out an opportunity for the government of Afghanistan, ARTF donors and the World Bank to strengthen the focus on results and accountability." SIGAR, which is tasked with auditing US-funded reconstruction programs and providing recommendations for preventing waste and corruption, has disclosed massive corruption in certain areas of the country, including Afghanistan's security institutions and forces.
The US has spent about USD 1 trillion overall to secure and stabilize Afghanistan with most of that devoted to training Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. (end) hy.mb