Yesterday, SIGAR released an audit of the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), one of the largest sources of funding to Afghan government operations outside the security sector.
-- 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.
-- The U.S. government, represented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is the largest contributor to the ARTF, contributing about $3 billion of the total $10 billion in direct assistance to the Afghan government since 2002.
-- Once the U.S. 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.
-- The World Bank is unable to accurately measure ARTF sector-level performance. Without an accurate, reliable evaluation, the World Bank will be unable to determine the impact the roughly $10 billion in donor funding has had in improving Afghan development.
-- USAID told SIGAR it is no longer preferencing funds by geographic location, which would enable diversion of money and development support away from areas under the control of the Taliban or other insurgent groups. USAID did not explain why its position changed.
-- A senior aide to Afghanistan's President told SIGAR that the structure of ARTF allows for ill-conceived projects to be funded because there is no repayment obligation and dysfunctional projects are nearly impossible to eliminate.
-- The Afghan Presidential aide also told SIGAR there is political pressure to spend ARTF funds, even if the programs and projects being funded are ill-conceived, unneeded, or risk losing future funding.
-- World Bank officials said the ARTF does not use conditionality or other mechanisms that would restrict disbursement of ARTF funding in general because this would go against ARTF's priority to pursue all opportunities for spending available funding on the Afghan government.
-- When approving reimbursements for Afghan government employees', such as teacher salaries, the World Bank does not require the monitoring agent to physically verify that salary recipients exist, despite acknowledging the risk of "ghost workers."
-- The World Bank cannot provide reasonable assurance that ARTF funding, which covers roughly 40 percent of all Afghan civilian expenditures, is reimbursing only proper government expenditures.
-- The World Bank restricts donor and public access to how it monitors and accounts for ARTF funding, leaving donors, and their taxpayers, without important information necessary to understand the activities they fund.
-- The Bank is not following its own policy to provide donors and the public access to ARTF records that should be publicly available.
-- As the fund is structured, the World Bank states that only the Afghan government-the ARTF recipient and beneficiary-has the ability to decide when and what projects to scale back, discontinue, or redesign.
Full Report: https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/