The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. Government watchdog agency, released a report last week explaining that the U.S. wasted more than $2.4 billion on “capital assets” for war-torn Afghanistan “that were unused or abandoned, had not been used for their intended purposes, had deteriorated, or were destroyed.”
The report reviewed $7.8 billion that the U.S. spent on cars, buildings, and other assets for Afghanistan since 2008. Just $1.2 billion of the money spent was used as intended, while a remarkably low $343.2 million worth of the assets “were maintained in good condition.”
John F. Sopko, the special inspector general, said in the report, “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects."
Sopko added that the wasted spending was in violation of "multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively."
“Most of these conditions are directly related to these agencies not considering whether the Afghans wanted or needed the facilities, or whether the Afghan government had the financial ability and technical means to sustain them,” he concluded in the report.
According to KATV, former advisor to the Afghan government Torek Farhadi said that the “donor-knows-best” mentality contributed to the lack of coordination that led to the wasteful spending.
"Consult with the locals about their needs and sustainability of the project once the project is complete,” Farhadi suggested. “Supervise, supervise, supervise project progress and implementation and audit every single layer of expenditure."
This alarming report comes during a crucial time in U.S./Afghanistan relations. President Joe Biden's administration is currently reviewing a peace deal former President Donald Trump signed with the Taliban last year to end the 20-year war in Afghanistan. Biden has until May 1 to withdraw all troops as promised in the deal or he risks prolonging the war.