Billions in aid to Afghanistan wasted, including money from Australia

November 15, 2018

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has called for an immediate audit of Australia's overseas aid funding after revelations that billions of dollars in Western aid to Afghanistan, including $590 million from Australia's contributions over a 17 year period, could have been lost to widespread waste, lax oversight and endemic corruption.

Canada's Globe and Mail reports, America's Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report to Congress that aid money has gone to build medical clinics without electricity or water, schools without children and buildings that literally melted away in the rain.

The report also found that corrupt local officials who were in charge of paying workers with some of the funds, created what the audits called “ghost workers,” civilian bureaucrats, police and soldiers who did not exist, then kept or diverted money recorded as being paid to them.

Special Inspector-General John Sopko said,“There is a lot of corruption, [but] most of what we have identified are just head-smacking stupid programs and really poorly managed and no accountability. Nobody is really held accountable for wasting the money.”

“Our findings are that basically the World Bank did not know how the money was being spent and …even the Afghans were saying some of the programs were really stupid, but there was no way to stop them,” Mr. Sopko said.

Senator Bernardi asked Foreign Minister Marise Payne to explain exactly what has happened to Australia's multi-million dollar financial aid to Afghanistan and whether is has been adequately accounted for.

To read Robert Fife and Michelle Zilio's full article, click here.

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