Thu, Jun

Congressional panel OKs $1.9b for Afghanistan


usa-flagA key congressional committee has approved $1.9 billion for the State Department and USAID operations in Afghanistan. Of the amount, $961.4 million will be spent on assistance programmes.

The funds approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations are $700 million less than what President Barack Obama had sought. The committee also reduced the US aid money to Pakistan for 2015 by $65.8 million.

It approved a total of USD959.7 million for Pakistan. An amount of $816 million would be spent on assistance programmes, said an official statement.
But the bill increases funding for polio prevention programmes to $59 million, including $7.5 million in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to support a multilateral campaign to eliminate the disease.

The committee requested the secretary of state to consult with it on plans for winding down the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). It supported the reincorporation of SRAP within the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
It also provides significant funding for the Inspectors General (IG), including Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and directs implementation of key IG and Government Accountability Office recommendations.

Approving the Foreign Appropriations Bill for 2015, the committee conditions signing of the BSA for disbursement of the aid under “Economic Support Fund’” and “International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement.”
The committee directed the secretary of state to submit a plan for the Afghanistan Special Immigrant Visa Programme beyond September 30, 2015 and addressing the current and long-term local staffing needs, including for local guards, of the US Embassy in Kabul.
Expressing concern over the impact of the US military withdrawal on the political, social, and economic gains of Afghan women, the committee expected that gender-related activities would remain a top US priority during the transition