The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and CEO Abdullah Abdullah recently ended 3 months of political disagreements and maneuvering over the nominations for the Afghan cabinet. This prolonged negotiations stalled plans for reforms. The lack of leadership at the Ministries left many projects in limbo and frustrated efforts to restore confidence in the economy. President Ghani recently presented the nominees before Parliament for a vote of confidence.
While it was expected that most of the Ministers for the posts of keen interest to US government contractors would be confirmed, many other nominees would likely not be confirmed or even presented to Parliament for consideration. Many members of Parliament have declared that they will only consider cabinet nominees who are exclusively Afghan citizens and they suspect that out of 26 total positions that could have been presented for nomination at least 11 have dual Afghan citizenship and another nationality. Moreover, several other nominations have encountered controversies that impacted the nominees’ status before Parliament. They include one nominee that is on the Interpol most wanted list, and two others who are suspected of falsifying their credentials.
As a result, the President submitted 19 nominees for consideration. On Thursday, January 29, 2015, Parliament confirmed 9 of the 19. The 4 ministers confirmed of most relevance to US government contractors include:
- Minister of Finance
- Minister of Interior
- Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Director of the National Directorate of Security
Generally speaking the confirmed nominees are younger, more energetic, and with a higher percentage of advanced college degrees than their predecessors, though some lack familiarity and experience with Afghan government bureaucracy, procedures, and structures. Here’s how we size up the new team and the influence that each key player may have on the pace and policies implemented during the BSA transition.
New confirmed Ministers critical to the implementation of the BSA include:
Ministry of Finance (MOF) - Eklil Hakimi- Amb. Hakimi previously served as Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. He was the former Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to China and Japan. Ambassador Hakimi was appointed as the chief negotiator for the BSA on behalf of the Afghan Government. Thus, his expert knowledge on the text and nuances of the BSA, coupled with his close relationship with the President, will drive the MOF to implement the new provisions of the BSA fairly quickly and aggressively.
Ministry of Interior (MOI) - Nur ul-Haq Ulumi-Mr. Ulumi is a former Army General who rose through the ranks over the years. After the fall of the Taliban, he served as a member of parliament and chaired the Defense Committee in Parliament. While the challenges at MOI are complex it is expected that the transition period will be short, thus the implementation of the current provisions of the BSA could happen at a reasonable rate. But this favorable possibility is subject to countervailing factors (see below).
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Salahuddin Rabbani - Mr. Rabbani is a former Afghan diplomat who served in New York and as Ambassador to Turkey. If confirmed, given his unfamiliarity with the staff and procedures at Ministry in Kabul (as a diplomat he was mainly based abroad) it is expected that the transition may take a bit longer to implement at MOFA thus the roll out and the implementation of the current BSA may take longer than at other Ministries.
Director of The National Directorate of Security (NDS) - Rahmatullah Nabil- Mr. Nabil is the only member of the Karzai cabinet that the President Ghani has retained, which speaks volumes for Mr. Nabil’s reputation for professionalism and competence. He is a former senior National Security Council official, a former head of the Afghan Secret Service, and a former UN employee. He has been acting head of the NDS intelligence and security service the past year and a half so there will be no transition period at this post. Nabil also has a long history of working positively with U.S. officials.
The 17 ministries that do not have confirmed Ministers, including the Ministry of Defense, will be led by “Acting Ministers” or “Deputy Ministers.” Parliament begins a 45-day long winter recess on Friday, January 30, 2015. The President can wait for Parliament to return from the winter recess and then propose new nominees, or he could issue a special decree and summon the members of Parliament to convene during the recess period and vote on the new slate of nominees. The latter option is unlikely. In any event, the delay in filling these positions with permanent ministers may retard BSA implementation.
THE VAP PROVEN APPROACH TO SOLVING STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL PROBLEMS FOR
US GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS IN AFGHANISTAN UNDER FULL FCPA COMPLIANCE
As Afghanistan and the United States begin to work through the implementation of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) numerous issues concerning interpretation and application will arise that will impact US government contractors in Afghanistan. The experienced consultants of Veritas Assurance Partners, in collaboration with colleagues from Afghanistan Holding Group in Kabul, are
uniquely familiar with the BSA, and finely attuned to the requirements and risks related to US law and regulation as they apply to contractors.
President Ghani instituted a “transition period” to fully implement the new requirements under the BSA from January 1, to June 1 2015. Many seemingly routine steps take longer to execute than expected in places like Afghanistan. Don’t be caught unprepared. US government contractors should take immediate action to understand these requirements and implement internal procedures to ensure compliance well in advance of the June 2015 deadline.
Veritas Assurance Partners and our colleagues from AHG scrupulously adhere to all US anti-corruption laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as well as Afghan and other national anti-corruption laws.
Working in support of the client’s legal team, Veritas Assurance Partners has a remarkable five year track record of achieving impressive results for US government contractor clients under the most difficult and seemingly impossible circumstances in Afghanistan and many other challenging, austere and even hostile environments in the Middle East and Latin America. Let us know if you would liketo learn more about our existing, satisfied clients.
For more information concerning the implementation of the BSA, strategic level trends and operational risks in Afghanistan, or to learn about Veritas Assurance Partners’ capabilities in relations to business registration, licenses, taxes, visas, accounting, and other services, please call Manuel Supervielle at:
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