The national budget plan for 2021 was denied a vote and approval for the second time in the House of Representatives. This is perhaps the first time in the House of Representatives that the national budget has been rejected twice. In previous years, the drafting and approval of the national budget were accompanied by controversies but it was never this controversial. The failed re-vote on the draft budget for the new fiscal year is thus further proof that relations between the government and the House of Representatives are not normal and that the two institutions are not able to deal with national and state affairs constructively.
The rejection of the national budget plan has two clear messages for the government. The first is that if this plan is not amended following the proposals of the House of Representatives, it will not be approved and implemented. The second message is that if the government wants to ignore the legal status of the House of Representatives, it will be immobilized by this institution. One of the tools the House of Representatives possesses is to deny approval to the national budget. If the House of Representatives wants to disapprove of this plan in the future, the government will not be able to spend from the budget. Therefore, the government has no choice but to interact positively with this institution and accept reasonable and principled proposals of the parliament.
The standardization of government employees’ salaries is a sensible proposal that the government must accept. Equalizing salaries will ensure justice in the salaries and benefits of government employees, while also preventing corruption on at least two levels. On one level, persons who chase after government posts with high salaries and privileges will no longer be able to bribe recruiting agents or use threats and force to get those positions. At another level, persons working for low wages will not have to resort to bribery and will finally be able to make a living with the money they earn. Distributing equal salaries and benefits to government employees will increase and maintain the lives of these employees at the same level and prevent polarization due to differences in income from government work. These are just some of the benefits of this proposal, so resisting it is not beneficial and does not seem logical.
The National Aid Program was rejected by the House of Representatives because it was funded by cutting funding to at least seventeen major development projects. The National Aid Program budget was indeed promised by the World Bank, but the result was the suspension or postponement of other projects, which would have been implemented with this budget. The government should not have used the money for development projects under the guise of fighting coronavirus or fighting hunger without the consent of parliament. It was clear from the beginning that 4,000 Afghanis was not enough money to change people’s lives. It was also predicted that this project, like other projects, would face the problems of mismanagement and corruption, which is what has been observed in several provinces. The government’s unilateral insistence on implementing the plan has now become a serious problem for it and has led to a confrontation between the two powers.
Ensuring balanced implementation and justice in development projects is also a sensible and defensible proposition. The government, as the enforcer of the law, has no right under any law to bring about unbalanced development or deliberately hinder development of some provinces. This is a sign of discrimination and a dual view of the provinces and their inhabitants, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. The government should be more flexible with the House of Representatives in ensuring the balanced implementation of development projects, provided that the purpose of the MP’s involvement in the matter is not to put pressure on the government for personal gain.
In principle, budget items must be approved by the House of Representatives. The government does not have the right to create a new department every day and ask the Ministry of Finance to set up and pay for that department. The House of Representatives has the right not to approve budget proposals for newly formed budget items that were not previously approved.
Also, until the fate of the money related to budgetary items 91 and 92, is clarified, it is necessary to be more careful with the proposed budget for these items. If the House of Representatives’ concerns about the proposed budget for these items are reasonable, the government should accept them. Resisting reasonable and principled proposals of the House of Representatives is not in the interest of the government. Similarly, opposition of the House of Representatives to the proposed budget without reasonable cause and solely to harm the government is not a solution. It is hoped that both institutions will overcome the current tension and controversy constructively and reach a logical solution by respecting each other’s legal status. Cooperation and adherence of the government and the parliament to the Constitution is in the nation’s best interest, and the powers given to both institutions under it should not be abused.