Sunday, February 16, 2014

Investigations: Canada Lags in Accounting for Billions in Afghan Spending

There's been virtually no public accounting of the $18 billion or more that Canada spent on the mission to Afghanistan, the world's most corrupt country, reports this investigative story by the Ottawa Citizen's David Pugliese.

The few audits or investigations that have been done have pointed to significant problems, but Canada's auditor general has no plans to study the Afghan spending.

Even the exact amount of Canada's spending in Afghanistan isn't known. Canadian government departments refused to turn over the numbers to the parliamentary budget officer.

Critics say most aid dollars never reach ordinary Afghans and are instead diverted into the pockets of powerful local officials.

U.S. Investigating Aggressively

Meanwhile, the U.S. has moved aggressively to nail misspending and fraud in its $97 billion aid program in Afghanistan. A watchdog agency created by the U.S. Congress found a construction company working on a new hospital was charging $500 per gallon for diesel fuel, when it actually costs $5.

The agency also looked into a $19-million project to build police bases and found they were abandoned or never occupied. One couldn't be used because it had no water supply. At another, one of the buildings had been turned into a chicken coop.

Even though most Canadian troops are now back home, Ottawa has pledged another $550 million in security aid and development funding.

Pugliese's story is one of a seven-part series looking at the legacy of the Afghan mission.

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