Afghanistan hits back at Western critics over aid | world | Hindustan Times
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Afghanistan hits back at Western critics over aid

world Updated: Feb 01, 2009 18:28 IST

Afghanistan hit back at Western criticism of official corruption on Sunday, saying some 80 percent of international aid was outside government control so donors should be held to account.

As US President Barack Obama makes Afghanistan his foreign policy priority, President Hamid Karzai's government has come under increased Western criticism for corruption, poor governance and not arresting the king-pins behind the booming drugs trade.

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said the criticism was "not fair" as the government had no say over how 80 percent of the billions of dollars of foreign aid was spent.

"Sometimes, we are accused of crimes we have not committed," Spanta told a news conference.

"When we have received 20 percent of the foreign aid, then it is better to be asked about that. The problem is that we are asked about the whole of the 100 percent, while we are unaware of the 80 percent," he said.

Spanta said there was a lack of coordination between international donors, more than a dozen United Nations agencies, the 100-plus non-governmental organisations, military units from more than 40 nations, and the government.

Many nations, especially the United States, implement development work in Afghanistan through a series of sub-contracts to international and finally Afghan firms leaving a lot of leeway for graft and meaning that much of the money is repatriated to the donor nation, aid experts say.

"What we need is better coordination, what we need is promoting the government's efficiency, what we need is good governance ... and a campaign against corruption on part of the government and the international community," said Spanta.

Drug production has decreased significantly in areas under government control, but large parts of the south, especially Helmand province where about half the world's opium is produced, are outside government control, Spanta said.

(Editing by Dominic Evans)