The Morning Risk Report: Afghanistan’s Uphill Corruption Battle

june 11June 12, 2018: Afghanistan’s government is working to combat corruption but a U.S. auditor’s report questions whether the country can maintain the effort.

The report from the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or Sigar, called the move to enact a strategy last fall a positive development. Yet it found the plan falls short of some international standards and best practices.

For example, 58% of the goals outlined in Afghanistan’s anticorruption plan were developed without benchmarks to gauge their effectiveness. Thirty-seven percent of the benchmarks included in the strategy lack corresponding goals, the report said.

Hamdullah Mohib, Afghan ambassador to the U.S., said in emailed comments to Risk & Compliance Journal that corruption has taken deep root in Afghanistan over the past 17 years, and isn’t a problem that can be eliminated overnight. He said, though, that the government has made “significant and unprecedented progress.”

The report argued that “the strategy’s authors did not fully engage Afghan civil society organizations and ministries, even though some will be responsible for the strategy’s implementation.” It also said “the strategy’s goals and benchmarks are not fully aligned. The strategy also does not fully incorporate Afghanistan’s other ongoing anticorruption initiatives.”

A formal Afghan response, published with the report, said that while the government could have consulted more broadly with stakeholders, it never excluded anyone from the process. It said the government disagreed that the strategy wasn’t integrated with other anticorruption efforts.

The report named five issues it said prevent Afghanistan from more capably fighting corruption. Among them: a lack of resources at government institutions for anticorruption work; the lack of will among law enforcement and the judiciary to prosecute powerful people; and incompetent and possibly corrupt people still working in government anticorruption roles.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including tying each goal to a measurable benchmark and getting the government to create independent anticorruption agencies using the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The report also recommends the government make available sufficient staff and resources. It says people working in anticorruption jobs should be subject to ongoing rounds of polygraph testing, with penalties for those who fail.

The ambassador said the Afghan government agreed with most of the recommendations in the report.

The government response published with the report said, though, that Afghanistan has created independent anticorruption bodies in the past, and that other reports have emphasized a need to consolidate these agencies. It said the government incorporated its latest anticorruption office within the Attorney General’s office in order to give it an institutionally strong position in the face of powerful vested interests.


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Source: The Wall Street Journal