Afghans to get US aid even after troops pullout


Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko has said that the US spending in Afghanistan is likely to continue at a pace of $6 billion to $10 billion a year even with the US war effort winding down.

Sopko said the embattled Afghanistan will be lucky to keep the lights on despite billions of dollars from the American taxpayers have been spent to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

Sopko said the US agencies largely failed to assess the price tag it would cost one of the world’s poorest countries to maintain its new infrastructure.

In prepared remarks for the Middle East Institute think tank, Sopko said the US could be spending up to $10 billion annually as far as the eye could see.

Sopko pointed to a 2010 report about Kabul’s construction of its new 105-megawatt power plant as an example, and said the government of Afghanistan promised to get an outside commercial partner to cover the plant’s operational costs after its completion, but that never materialized.

He said the plant would need outside support for several years and warned that thousands of homes in Kandahar would be in the dark without outside support, unless the country continues to be subsidized by foreign governments by 2015.

According to Sopko, US has never put so much money into the rebuilding of another nation and the US funding for Afghan reconstruction has topped the amount spent rebuilding Britain or Germany following World War II.

He said annual payments to Afghanistan are more than what Washington gives to Israel, Egypt and Pakistan combined.

Sopko also expressed concerns regarding the security gap following the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan and said the drawdown would also leave some key reconstruction projects too dangerous for US government employees to visit and “kick the tires,” to make sure the funding is being used correctly.