Quantcast
Connect with us

U.S. risks wasting billions in Afghan reconstruction: watchdog

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Millions of dollars in US funds have been lost due to poor planning and workmanship in projects to help rebuild Afghanistan and billions more could be at risk, according to a US watchdog.

The report by the special inspector general for Afghanistan, John Sopko, warned that handing over security to Afghan forces as the US withdraws its troops would also likely cause the costs of US-funded aid schemes to balloon.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The United States risks wasting billions of dollars if US-funded development programs cannot be sustained, either by the Afghan government or by continued donor support,” said the report released on Monday.

“As this report to Congress illustrates, a decade of struggle and bloodshed — and more than $89 billion of US appropriations for Afghan reconstruction — has not cleared the landscape of serious problems,” Sopko wrote.

He added that a “significant portion of the US government’s $400 million investment in large-scale infrastructure projects in fiscal year 2011 may be wasted, due to weaknesses in planning, coordination and execution.”

The report comes as NATO countries, led by the United States, have already started to withdraw the remaining 130,000 troops after more than 10 years of war, with all combat forces due to have left by the end of 2014.

And it warns that handing over security to Afghan forces will likely incur greater costs at construction sites.

ADVERTISEMENT

Audits of various projects taking place across the country found significant construction problems and flaws.

“The US Army accepted contract construction that is so poor it prevents some multimillion-dollar border police bases from being used as intended,” the report noted.

Three police border posts in eastern Nangarhar province were found to have major construction faults, including poorly-built guard towers, unconnected drains and badly-installed heating and ventilation systems.

ADVERTISEMENT

“These problems included the lack of a viable water supply, a poorly constructed septic system, and inadequate sewage,” the report said, adding nothing has been repaired as there is no effective quality assurance in place.

The basement of one of the buildings was now being used as a chicken coop, it added.

ADVERTISEMENT

The analysis examines the Afghan Infrastructure Fund, which was authorized by Congress in 2010. Over the past two years, Congress has invested $800 million into the fund, and the State Department has committed about $1 billion of its funds to related infrastructure programs.

Following complaints about shoddy workmanship, there had been arrests and charges brought in both the United States and Afghanistan and more than $900,000 had been recovered.

Several contracts were also withdrawn when poor contractors were uncovered, leading to the protection of some $50 million in contract funds. Two people had been convicted, one of theft and conspiracy.

ADVERTISEMENT

If US lawmakers approve a request from US President Barack Obama for new reconstruction funding, the United States will have provided nearly $100 billion since the 2002 US-led invasion to rebuilding Afghanistan.

That is several times more than the $35 billion, in 2011 terms, invested in Europe after World War II, the report said.

“Using that money effectively to improve security, governance, and socioeconomic development in Afghanistan poses tremendous challenges,” Sopko wrote.

“In the face of serious uncertainties about project sustainability, the need for sharp and effective oversight grows more critical.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Sopko vowed his office would step up its oversight, saying security and sustainability were the biggest challenges for Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

“Many billions of dollars of US investments in Afghanistan may be wasted without arrangements to ensure that the Afghans have adequate personnel, skills, access to technology, funding, and planning and oversight mechanisms to sustain them,” he warned.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump announces Rudy Giuliani ‘wants to go before Congress’ and testify about his Ukraine dealings

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Saturday said that his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, wanted to testify before Congress.

Speaking to reporters as he departed for a Republican fundraiser in Florida, Trump praised the former New York City mayor.

"Rudy, as you know, has been one of the great crime fighters of the last 50 years," Trump said of his lawyer, who is reportedly under federal investigation for breaking the law.

"And, he did get back from Europe just recently and I know -- he has not told me what he found, but I think he wants to go before Congress and say, and also to the attorney general and the Department of Justice," Trump said.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

GOP governors are refusing to do Trump’s bidding and ducking him on the campaign trail: report

Published

on

On Saturday, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times profiled how President Donald Trump is having less luck whipping Republican governors into line than Republican senators, including governors who arguably owe their election to his support.

"In Florida, Mr. Trump’s aides helped save the flailing candidacy of Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Republican primary, and then the general election," wrote Haberman. "Also last year, in Georgia, Mr. Trump helped pull Brian Kemp over the finish line in both the primary and the general election. In both cases, Mr. Trump’s advisers implored him to stay out of the primaries, and he agreed to — only to surprise his aides by jumping in to support Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Courts have avoided refereeing between Congress and the president — Trump may change all that

Published

on

President Donald Trump’s refusal to hand over records to Congress and allow executive branch employees to provide information and testimony to Congress during the impeachment battle is the strongest test yet of legal principles that over the past 200 years have not yet been fully defined by U.S. courts.

It’s not the first test: Struggles over power among the political branches predate our Constitution. The framers chose not to, and probably could not, fully resolve them.

Continue Reading