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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Costs of Afghan projects swell

For years, U.S. officials held up Kabul’s largest power plant project as a shining example of how American taxpayers’ dollars would pull Afghanistan out of grinding poverty and decades of demoralizing conflict.

But behind the scenes, the same officials were voicing outrage over the slow pace of the project and its skyrocketing costs. The problems were so numerous that one company official told the U.S. government that he’d understand if the contract were canceled.

“”We are discouraged and exhausted with the continued flow of bad information,”” one U.S. official complained in an internal memo that McClatchy obtained. “”This is a huge example of poor performance on an extremely important development project.””

Despite expressing serious misgivings in internal memos and meetings, the U.S. agency that was overseeing the project more than doubled the plant’s budget.

Welcome to Afghan aid, American-style.

In the rush to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has charged ahead with ever-expanding development programs despite questions about their impact, cost and value to America’s multibillion-dollar campaign to shore up the pro-Western Afghan president and prevent Taliban insurgents from seizing control.

The well-intentioned campaign comes at a high cost – and not only to American taxpayers.

An approach that experts denounce as ad hoc and politicized has led to programs with mixed, if not poor, results and has soured many Afghans on the U.S. military’s presence in their country, even as the Obama administration is banking on their support.

McClatchy found that U.S. government funding for at least 15 large-scale programs and projects grew from slightly more than $1 billion to nearly $3 billion despite the government’s questions about their effectiveness or cost.

 

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