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Afghan mayor slams Canadian corruption

GAP

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Afghan mayor slams Canadian corruption
By MURRAY BREWSTER The Canadian Press Thu, Dec 16 - 4:54 AM
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Western governments that call Afghanistan a hotbed of corruption ought to mind the old maxim about glass houses and throwing stones, the mayor of Kandahar city suggests in a stern letter to Ottawa that accuses Canadian officials of playing fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.

In a letter to Canada’s ambassador earlier this month, Ghulam Hayder Hamidi complained that Ottawa’s contracting practices are contributing to the culture of malfeasance in Afghanistan. He also expressed similar concerns about the United States and Britain.

"Your prime minister, (U.S.) President (Barack) Obama and the prime minister of England are complaining that we didn’t clean the corruption in Afghanistan (and) they will stop helping," Hamidi said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

"Who is doing the corruption? You are doing the corruption."

The letter, delivered earlier this month to Canada’s civilian representative in Kandahar, suggests that the federal government is being taken to the cleaners by a handful of guileful Afghan companies. As an example, he cited a recent $1.9-million project to install solar lights that has been plagued by problems.

Hamidi also accused Canadian civilians of spending taxpayer dollars needlessly and ineffectively in some areas, and companies selected by federal officials of providing low quality merchandise, or services at inflated prices.

In one case, after an attempt on his life in March 2009, Hamidi said officials bought him the US$139,000 luxury model of an armour-plated SUV when all he needed was the base model — a price difference of US$44,000.

"We told them we didn’t need a luxury" vehicle, said Hamidi, who spent three decades as an accountant in Arlington, Va., before becoming Kandahar’s mayor.

The model and type of the mayor’s vehicle were not identified for security reasons. But it came with no warranty and broke down soon after arriving in Kandahar, Hamidi said.

The contractor eventually sent mechanics to Kandahar and Hamidi waited weeks for the repairs. In the interim, he borrowed a friend’s car.

The vehicle was fixed, but Hamidi said it has continued to give him trouble.

Tim Martin, who took over earlier this year as Ottawa’s top-ranking civilian representative in the hardscrabble provincial capital, said he’s met with the mayor about his concerns. But Martin said he’s standing by Ottawa’s contracting practices in Afghanistan, which he said are open to competitive bidding.

"We’re working with a partner, and he is an accountant, and he cares about this kind of thing — I’m glad when Afghan partners are bringing forward money-saving opportunities for our Canadian projects," said Martin, a former Canadian ambassador to Paraguay and Argentina.

Canadian officials have heard his concerns before and nothing has been done, Hamidi charged.
end
 

The Bread Guy

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Funny that - Canadian officials seem pleased with the money being spent post-surge  ;D
U.S. President Barack Obama might have a tough sell at home when he gives his status report Thursday on the Afghan war, but for Canadians on the ground in dangerous Kandahar since 2006, the American surge has been an unqualified success.

"That definitely is having a positive impact," said William Crosbie, Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan.

As its 2011 exit countdown in Kandahar approaches, Canada is piggybacking on American-led gains in clearing out militants in this former Taliban heartland to pour in resources, push development and convince those in former insurgent safe havens to switch sides.

Canadian soldiers continue mop-up operations in their area of responsibility south and west of Kandahar City, but work is already underway on the first of over 500 CIMIC (civil-military co-operation) projects aimed at getting locals employed and disinterested in picking up arms again when the traditional spring fighting season returns.

Based on villager input, plans covering everything from roads, ditches and wells to schools and even mosques are to be implemented in just months.

"This is an extraordinary response to an extraordinary situation," Tim Martin, Canada's most senior government official in Kandahar Province, told Postmedia News, explaining the military-led construction effort ....
 

Fishbone Jones

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As to the original article and Ghulam Hayder Hamidi :

Not getting his cut;

Biting the hand that feeds;

Pot this is kettle: and,

blah, blah, blah.

Cut him off and don't give him another dime.
 

brihard

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recceguy said:
As to the original article and Ghulam Hayder Hamidi :

Not getting his cut;

Biting the hand that feeds;

Pot this is kettle: and,

blah, blah, blah.

Cut him off and don't give him another dime.

This is a guy who spent three decades working as an accountant in the U.S. Have you something to substantiate implications that he, personally is correct? It seems like some of his criticisms have merit, and he's certainly qualified to speak on the matter.

It's easy for us to get defensive, but unless we dismiss every single thing he says there's probably some merit in his words.
 

Fishbone Jones

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Brihard said:
This is a guy who spent three decades working as an accountant in the U.S. Have you something to substantiate implications that he, personally is correct? It seems like some of his criticisms have merit, and he's certainly qualified to speak on the matter.

It's easy for us to get defensive, but unless we dismiss every single thing he says there's probably some merit in his words.

I was the Project Manager for over 500 projects over there. I personally carried a total of over 3/4 of a million dollars US in a suitcase, to pay contractors for their work.

Workers got approx $1.00 per day.

Do the math.

I dealt with the corruption, graft and payoffs on a regular basis. I knew what palm to grease to get the work done and which guy needed to be satisfied to get the permit.

I don't need to get defensive. I know what the system is and how it works. It's why all my projects were successful.

 

Fusaki

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So you're saying that he's right, and that we do pay into the corruption, but that he is only raising a stink about this because he, being corrupt himself, doesn't feel like he's getting his share?
 

Fusaki

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And I should add that if the answer to the above question is "Yes," I'm not casting judgement or anything.

I'm fully aware that 1) we need to work with someone in Afghanistan, and 2) finding someone "squeaky clean" in that country is unrealistic.

I just think that if the Canadian public were better aware of the complexity of the mission they would be less people saying "Well, we've been there since 2001! How long is this mission going to take?!?!"
 

kincanucks

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Brihard said:
This is a guy who spent three decades working as an accountant in the U.S. Have you something to substantiate implications that he, personally is correct? It seems like some of his criticisms have merit, and he's certainly qualified to speak on the matter.

It's easy for us to get defensive, but unless we dismiss every single thing he says there's probably some merit in his words.

So what is your experience and knowledge of corruption or lack of it in KC?  Every time a Afghan complains about corruption by people that are trying to get this country running and doing a damn good job despite the roadblocks by Afghan 'officials" I give it as much merit as I would your expertise, none.
 

Big Red

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recceguy said:
I was the Project Manager for over 500 projects over there. I personally carried a total of over 3/4 of a million dollars US in a suitcase, to pay contractors for their work.

Workers got approx $1.00 per day.

Do the math.

I dealt with the corruption, graft and payoffs on a regular basis. I knew what palm to grease to get the work done and which guy needed to be satisfied to get the permit.

I don't need to get defensive. I know what the system is and how it works. It's why all my projects were successful.

We should be getting away from contracted projects unless absolutely necessary ie. use of heavy equipment. Cash for work directly to the Afghan on the ground is the most effective way of mitigating corruption (it will still happen).

GAP said:
As an example, he cited a recent $1.9-million project to install solar lights that has been plagued by problems.

Problems like Afghans stealing the lights as soon as they are installed. Not really Canada's fault.
 

toughenough

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article said:
...suggests that the federal government is being taken to the cleaners by a handful of guileful <local> companies. ... also accused Canadian civilians of spending taxpayer dollars needlessly and ineffectively in some areas, and companies selected by federal officials of providing low quality merchandise, or services at inflated prices...

This is a surprise? Anyone remember the $120 C7 Cleaning Kit thread? We've all seen prices on some pieces of kit and said WTF. This really doesn't surprise me. I'm sure a *normal* company looking at the contracts for municipal road work would probably say similar.
 

Jarnhamar

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Wonderbread said:
we do pay into the corruption, but that he is only raising a stink about this because he, being corrupt himself, doesn't feel like he's getting his share?

Bingo.

Gotta love honest theives.
 

garb811

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The only option you have in a corrupt society is to either deal with and attempt to mitigate the corruption or not become involved in any kind of contracting with the local nationals.  I'm sure if we took the later course of action some Afghan politician, and quite possibly the mayor, would be up in arms about the failure of Canada to make any progress because of our refusal to contract any local nationals or companies to work on redevelopment projects.
 

brihard

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recceguy said:
I was the Project Manager for over 500 projects over there. I personally carried a total of over 3/4 of a million dollars US in a suitcase, to pay contractors for their work.

Workers got approx $1.00 per day.

Do the math.

I dealt with the corruption, graft and payoffs on a regular basis. I knew what palm to grease to get the work done and which guy needed to be satisfied to get the permit.

I don't need to get defensive. I know what the system is and how it works. It's why all my projects were successful.

Fair enough- I didn't realize you had that experience.

So form your experience, is the mayor himself prone to corruption, and does that degree of corruption outweigh all merit to anything he said?
 

Fishbone Jones

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Brihard said:
Fair enough- I didn't realize you had that experience.

So form your experience, is the mayor himself prone to corruption, and does that degree of corruption outweigh all merit to anything he said?

You don't give up a 30 year white collar career and leave the States to become a mayor in Afghanistan because your heart cries out for the destitute.
 
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