WASHINGTON - The U.S. government should reconsider whether to spend more on reconstruction aid in Afghanistan, the U.S. watchdog who monitors the funds said yesterday, citing Afghanistan's persistent corruption and inability to manage projects.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government should reconsider whether to spend more on reconstruction aid in Afghanistan, the U.S. watchdog who monitors the funds said yesterday, citing Afghanistan’s persistent corruption and inability to manage projects.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, said $20?billion in U.S. assistance for Afghanistan had been appropriated but not yet spent. Nearly $10?billion more in aid might soon be approved by Congress.
Sopko asked whether any of this money should be released. A growing number of projects built with U.S. assistance in Afghanistan are in insecure areas as U.S. troops withdraw, putting them beyond the reach of American auditors to safely visit, he said.
“We have the opportunity to hit the pause button” as U.S. troops are pulling out, Sopko told the House Oversight and Government Reform panel. “It’s an important opportunity to stop and reassess all of that money that hasn’t been spent, and make the determination: Is it worth the risk?
“There may be a reason to push the money out the door for a particular project or program. … But at least justify it.”
Afghanistan regularly is ranked as one of the world’s most-corrupt countries. The audits have pointed out numerous weaknesses in the oversight of U.S. reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, which is approaching $100?billion over a decade of war. Much of this money has gone to help train Afghan military forces.
Sopko, who has been in his job for seven months, said his office will write letters to all U.S. agencies operating in Afghanistan, asking them to list the status of projects there. Congress and the administration should examine the list and decide whether to forge ahead with the projects that have not begun, he said.