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Director General Budget Department, Ministry of Finance
Director General Budget Department, Ministry of Finance

Mr. Ahmad Javed Jalali was appointed as the Director General for Budget Department in the Ministry of Finance, Afghanistan in January 2009 through the Management Capacity Program of the Independent Administration Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission implemented by the General Directorate of Programs’ Design and Management. Mr. Jalali has a Master degree in Business Administration from Pakistan. 

Prior to his current job Mr. Jalali has served the country in many senior positions of the Treasury Department and was the Director General of Government Accounts in the Afghan Ministry of Finance. He also served as the Director General of Revenue of the Afghan Ministry of Finance. His experience also extends to CFO and COO positions with NGOs funded by USAID, World Bank and private corporations such as KPMG, Bearing Point and Afghan Finance Company.   

The most important quality for a senior official of Ministry of Finance is leadership.  It is essential that the official be able to make decisions, communicate those decisions, and follow-up to ensure that the decisions are carried out on time.  Mr. Jalali has exhibited leadership in a number of ways, some of examples are stated in the below paragraphs.

Institutional Development

The Budget department organization structure was not in accordance to the needs of today which focuses on the three main areas, Budget Policy and Reforms, Budget Execution and Aid Management, upon his arrival Mr. Jalali revised the organization structure in order to make it in accordance to the current needs of the budget department. 

Under his leadership, for the first time the budget department has got 5 years business plan which will enable the three directorates and other staff of the budget department to properly monitor their performance and also to report on their progress to the senior management. He introduced well advanced way of assessment of his staff based on results. He introduced Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for his managers which are reviewed every quarter and through a reward and punishment process he keeps his staff well motivated. 

The Budget Department did not have any communication strategy, which would outline how to deal with different stakeholders during the budget process. It is also DG Jalali’s great initiative that he has prepared a communication strategy for his department. 

Budget Execution

Before his arrival Budget execution rates were wrongly reported which led everyone with false information. This was due to the wrong practices of accounting like mixing up of Cash basis with accrual basis of accounting i.e. Calculation of Letter of Credits in expenditures and calculation of advances as expenditure against the budgets. He changed the wrong practices and now the LCs and advances are not calculated in the expenditures unless they are realized. 

Mr. Jalali introduced financial and procurement planning in the line ministries in order to execute and plan the budget more realistically. He simplified the allotment process and minimized the allotment processing time from 10 days to a minimum of 3 days. He introduced contract base allotment for the development budget and is now working on annual allotment for the operating budget. He also introduced and regularized budget execution meetings with the senior management of line the ministries. 

There was no practice of preparing execution reports in place. But now under his leadership budget execution reports are prepared on weekly basis and shared with all the stakeholders of the MoF and others.Mr. Jalali also established regular budget and treasury coordination meetings, which has resulted in quite good results i.e allotment and disbursement is done in timely manner. Check lists and allotments process has been prepared. Before these regular meetings there were a lot of bottleneck in allotment and payment procedures which needed keen supervision of both department.

Budget Policy and Reform 

Mr. Jalali has made significant improvement in the budget planning and formulation process, Budget Circulars one and two and Medium Term Budget Framework (MTBF). MTBF was for the first time prepared and the budget ceilings have been presented and got approved by the Cabinet. Citizen Budget document is also introduced in his tenure, which make the budget itself user friendly. He has introduced the result based budgeting and performance reporting in the country. Afghanistan has centralized budgeting but he has introduced a bottom up approach for the sub national budgeting with introduction of provincial budgeting approach to the line ministries. 

Before his appointment as the DG budget there was no role of provincial directorates in the budget process. He introduced the idea of budget committees within each budget entities in order to involve provincial directorate in their annual budget process. Under his leadership, he has provided provincial budgeting intensive training to all 34 provinces.One of the most important achievements he made is the roll out of program budget approach to all the budget entities. Under his leadership, regular technical support is provided to the budget entities for implementation of the program budgeting whenever needed. He also established the program budget steering committee for the successful implementation of the program budgeting.

He has been successful in meeting the International Monetary Fund structural benchmarks on HIPC and PRGF, Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) Incentive Program benchmarks. It is worth mentioning that according to an international survey Afghanistan has significantly improved its budget transparency this year. The Open Budget Initiative is a global research and advocacy program to promote public access to the budget information and the adoption of accountable budget systems. Under this program, every two years the budget documents of various countries around the world are reviewed and public access to the budget information is evaluated. In the previous OBI survey (2008) Afghanistan scored only 8%.  On 19 October 2010 the International Budget Partnership (IBP) released its 2010 survey and Afghanistan scored 21%, which is a huge improvement over the 8% in 2008 and in 2012 it is expected to cross 40% of the targeted transparency indicators i.e. involvement of the Civil Society and the Public in the budget formulation and investments. The computerized budgeting system (SBPS, state budget planning system) is made functional under the DG Jalali’s leadership, which is only computerized system which fulfills all budgeting needs of country. Donor Assistance Database (DAD) is also functional where all the donors can have access to update their data. 

He has introduced regular monthly budget committee meetings and makes possible effective involvement of the sector managers in these meetings. Before his appointment, the role of sector managers was very limited and they were not directly involved in the budget committee meetings and also these meetings were not regularized.   

Before his appointment as the DG Budget, Budget hearing sessions were not organized properly. It mostly presented a scene of bargaining with each other. But Mr. Jalali introduced a well managed approach for hearing sessions based on the approved ceilings by the councils of the ministers and national priorities which is currently successfully implemented and followed by the budget department.  

One of his greatest initiatives in the budgeting process is that he has proposed a tashkeel commission, who reviews the organization structure and number of employees needed for each budget entity in advance of budget hearing sessions. Previously, the tashkeel of each budget entity was also discussed during the budget hearing sessions which were very much time consuming. 

Mr. Jalali has also created a common standardized template for the development projects which is now being used by both the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance. He also introduced performance reporting template which satisfies needs of both the Ministry of Economy (Monitoring & Evaluation) and the Ministry of Finance (Program Budget deliverables)

Aid Management 

Out of most of the papers presented in Kabul Conference, the two papers which were fully endorsed by the donors are the Public Financial Management Road Map and the Operational Guide (OG) for external budget are prepared and implemented under Mr. Jalali’s supervision.

Before his appointment in the current position, every donor used their own methods/procedures to assess Public Financial Management (PFM) and technical capacity of budget entities in order to channel their funds through the core budget. In order to harmonize the assessments by all the donors he established a working group between the donor and the government and introduced harmonized assessment tools/standard which is acceptable by all the donors. 

Under Mr. Jalali’s leadership, Development Cooperation Dialogue (DCD) has initiated to stimulate policy dialogue on development and reconstruction between the GOIRA and its Development partners to strengthen the relationship and cooperation between Afghan Government and its partners where development partners assured that their assistance will be in accordance to the national priorities.  The Development Cooperation Report (DCR) is the outcome of these successful dialogues and serves a complete picture of the development achievements since 2002. This report also provides policy directions to further strengthen and accelerate the development process in the country. In regards to his leadership, he has published a small booklet on the external assistance to Afghanistan, which provides brief information on the external assistance from 2002 to 2010.   Before his arrival, there was not a single report which could provide detail of on budget and off budget donor’s assistance.  

The interview and the performance information of the MCP Appointee are compiled by Mr. Ahmad Jawad Akbari – Manager Communications and Donor Relations (GDPDM) and Mr. Abdul Waheed Khawry – Communications and Media Relations Officer (GDPDM).

 

 
 
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