vent – ii

so frustrating.

i hate to vent about work on here, but then again sometimes this is the only place i can do so.

everyone seems to have their menu of what the most central problems are with the afghan government, and they mostly revolve around corruption and capacity.

from my point of view as someone who is slapped with the responsibility over a certain project and has to get the work done and the money spent and the rural areas developed and jobs created, none of these things mean much. my most pressing issues as a development practioner within the government is neither capacity nor corruption of the government system. and you might say that this is isolated to the certain government institution i happen to be working with and which is relatively immune to those ills, but other, bigger problems abound nonetheless. and they have to do more with highly centralized, inefficient, process-oriented, impersonal, cold, inefficient, inefficient, inefficient bureaucracies that tie up one’s hands and feet, while the world, the people of this country, the donor community, everyone expects us to run faster and get the country developed and the goods delivered.

i am so frustrated by these freaking pen-pushers. especially over the last few weeks. i have had it up to here with them. it seems to take us eons to get somebody onboard, an ordinary piece of equipment purchased, or a payment processed. this country, while officially grumbling about getting only 2 out of 10 aid dollars spent through the core budget, at the same time has a 9-month fiscal year. no kidding. the financial system freezes for a good quarter when absolutely no payments are processed. now imagine if the rest of the aid money were to go through this. i read somewhere that even the police salaries are often delayed by anywhere from 3 to 6 months, and when that salary, however meager, is the key motivation for why they are in the police force in the first place, then you have to wonder what keeps them manning their post. and the procurement system is officially, thoroughly broken down. this much is said often by a key contender in the presidential races too. all of this red-tape, centralization, signature upon signature is meant to control against corruption and minimize the opportunities for corrupt practices -with the attendant ironic result that while it famously fails to check against corruption, it also stifles performance and renders the whole bureaucracy inefficient and stagnant. and if anybody raises their voice, or god forbid tries to dispense with some of the extraneous steps in the process, then the attorney general’s saranwals wrath is hanging above them like the damocles sword. like someone once said, you never get into trouble for not doing anything with the government here. it is what you do that you need to worry about. the moral of the story is that do nothing, sip your green tea, lounge around and fill the time and you will do just fine.

*

in other news, this afternoon -in 30 minutes, as a matter of fact- the national tv is holding the most anticipated debate of this presidential election season. even the incumbent himself -who has usually shied away from such engagements- is reportedly appearing. should be plenty interesting.

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~ by safrang on August 16, 2009.

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