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Expensive Loya Jirga in Poor Afghanistan

Feature: Expensive Loya Jirga in Poor Afghanistan

Among the efforts in Afghanistan that have been made to bring peace and stability, the only contribution of National Unity Government (NUG) has been to organize the Consultative Loya Jirga on peace, which ended a few days ago with a 23-article resolution.
Although, according to the Constitution of Afghanistan, Loya Jirga is the highest manifestation of the power of the Afghan people, and it has been discussed extensively in the Constitution, till now none of the Loya Jirgas has been held according to the characteristics as put forward by the law.
In the last Jirga, Taliban and many prominent political figures boycotted it and even the Chief Executive Secretariat which is half of the stakeholder in NUG also opposed this gathering and termed it an election campaign by President Ghani.
According to President Ghani’s decree, the Afghan finance ministry was assigned to provide the fund for the Loya Jirga, the Ministry of Finance reported that it had allocated $5 million for the Grand Consultative Jirga on Peace. It, however, remains ambiguous whether the outcome of the Jirga was worth that cost.
And when negative effects of Loya Jirga on Afghan economy is discussed, it should be understood that not only the 369 million Afghani budget was wasted but also, on the other hand, the capital Kabul was off for one week because of security reasons to hold Consultative Jirga that effected the economy and caused million-dollar loses for Afghan traders.
If we count the Thursday and Friday holidays in the capital Kabul, they sum up to 104 days. In addition to these days, Nawroz holidays, Eid holidays, Independence Day holidays, all will reach to 115 days in a year, which is of 365 days.
And if we want to add unplanned holidays in the calendar for national and international conferences and meetings and the birth and death of political figures, our capital will be the first in the world in terms number of holidays.
As we mentioned earlier, besides the obstacle for the work of the people and government departments over this one week of holidays, millions of loses were incurred by Afghanistan’s economy, particularly, the private sector.
According to some economists, and statistics, for around 80,000 government employees in Kabul, the government had to pay at least 144 million Afghanis in six days, even though they were on leave and did not pay any services to the government or the people.
However, the negative effects of Loya Jirga holidays cannot be summarized in the figures above, and the private sector also suffer irreparable damage in this regard.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan has already considered such holidays to be detrimental for the people and business environment of the country, saying that every day, about $2 million damage is caused to the private sector. If we calculate for 6 days, the loss incurred due to Consultative Loya Jirga will be AFN 888 million.
With an estimated total of AFN 369 million for the Consultative Peace Loya Jirga, a salary of 144 million AFN paid free to employees during the 6 days and 888 million AFNs from losses incurred by the private sector of the country; the total loses will be 19 million dollars; that is real cost incurred due to a failed Consultative Loya Jirga on peace.
Keeping in mind the above figures, and the weak economy of Afghanistan, a question that comes in the mind of each person is whether it was reasonable to organized a Jirga that did not have even the support of the NUG and prominent political leadership of the country?
This amount could be spent on other important things in Afghanistan. Recently, the floods across Afghanistan in provinces of Herat, Helmand, Balkh, Faryab, Badghis and Sar-e-Pul demolished thousands of homes and shelters of the people. Many of them who lost their homes in this incident were displaced to the surrounding areas.
Thousands of acres of agricultural land, which were the strengths and auspices of thousands of our poor countrymen, were also destroyed, and their owners no longer had the opportunity to use it this year.
This amount of money spent in the Loya Jirga could have been used in right direction to make the lives of these Afghans who were affected by floods and other disasters across Afghanistan.
According to reports, a large number of those who participated in the jirga were government employees who were selected by inner circles to favor the Presidential Palace.
Many of participants who came from the provinces as representatives to the Jirga were, in some way or the other, affiliated with provincial governors and the central government.
Afghan people also witnessed that the Jirga was flawed, and its 23-article resolution also shows the fact that the result of the work of 3,200 participants was not worthwhile.
Many of the articles in the resolution have been the hallmark of all the politicians and leaders of Afghan political parties and independent figures in the country that have been reflected in the media for weeks and months.
Even many of these articles are discussed by the participants in previous peace talks in Moscow and Doha, and the Taliban themselves know these already.
At the end, Ghani administration needs to answer that after the failure to achieve tangible outcomes for promotion and establishment of peace in Afghanistan, who will respond to economic losses that have been inflicted upon the nation that has already been suffering because of poverty, deprivation and insecurity?
(Sahar News)

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