$41,000 salary to foreign advisor serves blow to Ghani
KABUL (Pajhwok): President and election candidate Ashraf Ghani received a storm of criticism from his opponents for appointing a German national as advisor against $41,000 monthly salary.
Ghani’s election rivals took full advantage of the matter after it went viral on social media and used the issue to harm him.
Documents received by Pajhwok Afghan News show that President Ashraf Ghani has appointed a German national Dr. Plasa Uber as an advisor to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries against $41,000 monthly salary in September, 2017.
A written recommendation of the Ministry of Trade and Industries issued in September, 2017 says that on the basis of a letter from the Administrative Affairs of Presidential Palace, the president has issued directives and the finance minister also followed the issue. The ministry of commerce should suggest that Dr. Plasa should cooperate with them.
The source said that Dr. Plasa started work from February, 2017 and shared his services and advises with the ministry of commerce and the Presidential Palace.
The recommendation maintains that: “It is worth mentioning that in case of Dr. Plasa continued work in fiscal year 2017, the Finance Ministry is requested to consider the mentioned amount within the project in addition to the budget.”
The president also directed that Finance Ministry should consider the amount in the fiscal year budget 2017.
Sameer Rasa, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, during a chat with media persons acknowledged the German advisor had been recommended by the deputy minister, but in his appointment letter, the former commerce minister wrote that the German advisor was hired based on the presidential orders.
Plasa, during a recent interview with a television network, said his wife was Afghan and President Ghani requested his wife during a meeting that he should work in the government.
Farzana Ahmadi on her Facebook page wrote: “We the poor government employees are happy that we get salary from this government. I did not know why the government lacks funds at the end of the year when it comes to salary payment to employees for their part time work.”
Facebook user Bashir Ahmad Qasani asked if $41,000 salary could be given to a few teachers and soldiers who fought the enemy on frontline. “Our irresponsible leaders waste money of world’s taxpayers,” he wrote on Facebook.
Another Facebook user Sultani also criticized the move and wrote: “Being a citizen, I object. Is this true”, he questioned.
Finance Ministry’s Spokesman Shamroz Masjidi on his Facebook page wrote: “My dear friends, the advisor with the commerce ministry recommended by the Finance Ministry with orders from the highest authorities.”
Former Mining Minister Waheedullah Shahrani wrote: “Murtazavi said the right thing but here we shall not forget two things.”
All the Mines and Petroleum Ministry’s advisers at that time were paid salaries from foreign budget, not from the Afghanistan’s national budget.
Ashraf Ghani had also severed as advisor for three months at the MoMP and received $ 28,000 salary in a project belonging to the Pentagon named TFBSO.
“If Murtazawi wants further details in this regard, we would provide and then it would become clear who did a real job for the country and who came here for dollars.”
Hamid Salangi also wrote in response to Murtazawi. “Mr. Murtazawi what’s your problem with leaders? You are an advisor, just keep giving advices. Instead you have been busy writing negative things against Abdullah, Atta Mohammad Noor and Mujahideen. Such issues of the State Builder electoral team will confront the country with destruction.”
Inappropriate step or an electioneering tool?
Experts also criticize giving $ 41,000 salary to a foreign advisor and consider it an appropriate, but they say discussing the issue after two years is linked with the ongoing electioneering.
Younis Fakoor, a political expert, said: “I believe we have more knowledgeable and experienced Afghan advisors inside the country compared to Mr. Plasa and the president could hire them with low salaries.”
He told Pajhwok that hiring a foreigner advisor against $41,000 per month (nearly 3.2 million afghanis) could discourage Afghans who received less salaries.
He further said that the country‘s budget and facilities did not permit the recruitment of a foreign advisor against such a high salary.
However, he said raising the issue after two years by Ghani’s opposition was aimed at damaging the State Builder team’s image.
Saifuddin Sehon, economics faculty teacher at the Kabul University, said: “Foreign individuals in name of advisors are high salaries in order to devise national strategies, but they did nothing in practice for this country and only received big salaries.” He termed the issue as injustice and discrimination against Afghans.
He said, “Donor countries when aid Afghanistan, they ask Afghan leaders to hire their own individuals those who had retired in their own countries to get such high salaries.”
“In politics, there have always been such issues and allowed to be used as a promotional material, because one side wants to expose the weaknesses of the other side,” he said.
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