While the government of Afghanistan is in transition, EPD launched a critical report on the 28th of January at the Park Star Hotel in Kabul on the budget-service delivery nexus, interrogating the linkages between the national budget process and service delivery. It has been published in English and Dari.
The event’s aim was to share EPD’s findings with Afghan citizens and national media in order to engender a public debate on budgeting and service delivery. An audience of around 50 people from civil society, NGOs and government and serveral national media attended the event. The event’s panel consisted of Mr. Edrees Omarzad representing EPD, Mr. Hayatullah Bayan representing EPD’s Afghans’ Coalition for Transparency and Accountability (ACTA) network, and Mr. Farhad Faqiri representing the project’s donor Open Society Afghanistan (OSA).
With the ongoing political and security transition entering the Transformation Decade, effective budgeting will become even more crucial with impending budget constraints as foreign aid is likely to decline. The report examines the multi-faceted ways national budgeting in Afghanistan affects the quality of education and health service delivery based on data collected from 8 provinces and extensive research, as a means of addressing deficiencies in the budget process and informing recommendations to various stakeholders.
The research found that a lack of discretionary budget in the national budget, complex procedures and a lack of capacity at the provincial level (and to a lesser extent at the central level), ubiquitous corruption, and the inability of the Afghan government to facilitate an effective mechanism for provincial budgeting represent the main deficiencies in the budget process that affect the quality of education and health service delivery in the targeted provinces.
EPD’s recommendations for the government, civil society and international donors outline what each specific sector could undertake to improve the budgeting-service delivery nexus. The report argues that an increase of discretionary authority in the national budget, effective accountability mechanisms such as a government-wide M&E system, and a more participatory budget process could improve budget efficiency, ensure better quality service delivery and potentially restore the public’s faith in the government.