The Afghan government charges that “western aid [over $10bn] is wasted on expensive vehicles, inflated salaries and excessive overheads.”

NGOs reply that they’ve been confused with “highly paid private contractors – many employed by the US government – who have flooded the country since the Taliban were ousted in 2001″ and who “earn up to $1,000 a day, live in highly protected compounds and travel in luxury four-wheel drive vehicles.”

From The Guardian:

A simmering row between the Afghan government and western aid agencies exploded into the open yesterday with accusations that non-governmental organisations have squandered billions of pounds earmarked for reconstruction.

Reports Reliefweb:

Afghanistan’s Karzai appoints committee to study controversial NGO law

KABUL, April 3 (AFP) – Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai on Sunday appointed a committee of locals and foreign representatives to study draft legislation aimed at controlling aid agencies after some raised concerns over the bill … [the draft legislation] followed a government probe into the activities of some non-governmental organisations (NGO).

“Under this law NGOs would not be allowed to receive government contracts,” Paul Barker, country director of Care, said earlier.

“So it would prohibit NGOs from being involved in a wide range of activities in the country.”

Another western NGO official said on condition of anonymity: “This law is providing tools for the regulation of NGOs. But it brings a lot of restriction, and it’s pretty negative for the NGO community.”

“Western agencies initially supported the new law,” writes The Guardian, “as a measure to separate real aid agencies from bogus ones.”

Many of the 2,400 registered NGOs in Afghanistan are profit-making ventures that exploit their status to bid for large government contracts.

But a last-minute amendment to the bill shuts genuine aid agencies out of funding for programmes such as digging wells, building schools and fostering civil society.

Analysts said the amendment may have been driven by wrangling over access to funds between ministers in the recently formed cabinet.

The controversy comes at the start of the Afghan Development Forum, a three-day conference to determine aid priorities for the coming year.

Karzai has set up a committee to examine the new law and report back in a month.

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