| ||Wolesi Jirga speaker accused of striking deal with govt|
By Abasin Zaheer
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KABUL - A number of Wolesi Jirga -- or the lower house -- members on Saturday blamed some lawmakers for trying to rescue the 11 ministers summoned for under-spending their development funds.
The parliamentarians, who had voted overwhelmingly for summoning the ministers, have been bickering over their decision during the past three weeks.
Ministries of defence, interior, commerce, economy, counter-narcotics, water and energy, education, urban development, mines, higher education and information failed to use the funds meant for uplift activities.
The house summoned the 11 Cabinet members last Monday to explain why they could not use the uplift funds allocated to their ministries as part of the 2011 budget.
However, four of the 11 ministers did not appear and the remaining seven were not allowed by legislators to explain their positions.
The Wolesi Jirga should have met today to decide the summons issue, the house defence commission head, Humayun Humayun, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Humayun, hailing from Khost province, said: "I want to clearly tell all Afghans that Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi is reluctant to summon the ministers for reasons best known to him."
Accusing Ibrahimi of striking an underhand deal with the government, he alleged the speaker was trying to have the budget approved and keep the summons issue pending until the winter recess. The 45-day break will begin on January 20.
Eng. Kamal Sapi, a legislator from Kunduz province, said the administrative board also did not want the summons issue to be included in the agenda of the general session.
Shukria Barakzai, another lawmaker from Kabul, believed the MPs should have debated the question on Saturday. "Some MPs are treating it technically while others are dealing with it politically." Conflicting stances left the house unable to implement its decision, she remarked.
But Farhad Azimi, the deputy secretary, said the issue was linked to a decision of MPs. The administrative board had no role in it, he insisted.
Azimi explained that the board wanted the budget to be approved before the winter recess, because it directly affected people’s lives and the country’s development.
On Wednesday, the house rejected with a majority vote the draft budget for 2013, with MPs hitting out at the government for uneven fund distribution to provinces.
The budget -- already adopted by the Meshrano Jirga (upper house) -- carried "an unjustified" sum of $82 million for the Presidential Palace’s general expenses and a meagre amount of $64 million for the judiciary and parliament, the members complained.