U.S. to withdraw and withhold funds from Afghanistan

WASHINGTON/KABUL, Sept 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the United States would withdraw about $100 million earmarked for an energy infrastructure project in Afghanistan and withhold a further $60 million in planned assistance, blaming corruption and a lack of transparency in the country.

Pompeo said in a statement the United States would complete the infrastructure project, but would do so using an "'off-budget' mechanism," faulting Afghanistan for an "inability to transparently manage U.S. government resources."

"Due to identified Afghan government corruption and financial mismanagement, the U.S. Government is returning approximately $100 million to the U.S. Treasury that was intended for a large energy infrastructure project," he added.

The decision comes a day after the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, in a tweet called out the country's National Procurement Authority (NPA) for not approving the purchase of fuel for thermal electricity.

Residents of Kabul have accused the NPA of ignoring people's need for energy, as large parts of the city have been without power for more than seven hours every day this month.

Electricity outages have also inflicted losses for manufacturing companies and emergency health services.

RELATED: Afghanistan, September 2019

23 PHOTOS
Afghanistan, September 2019
See Gallery
Afghanistan, September 2019
Resolute Support (RS) forces guard at the site of a car bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The Afghan government says at least 10 civilians are dead and another 42 wounded after a Taliban suicide car bombing rocked the Afghan capital near a neighborhood housing the U.S. Embassy and the NATO Resolute Support mission. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Afghans travel in convoy with cars decorated with black flags and portraits of late Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud marking the 18th anniversary of his death, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Afghans are bracing for a possible new wave of Taliban violence after President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks with the insurgent group, which vows to continue its fight against what it calls "foreign occupation." (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Bird sellers wait for customers at a market in the Old City of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Afghan Presidential Spokesman Seddqi spoke to reporters hours after Trump in a series of tweets announced that he had canceled a secret meeting set for Sunday at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan leaders. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Afghan Presidential Spokesman Sediq Seddqi gives a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Seddqi spoke to reporters hours after U.S. President Donald Trump in a series of tweets announced that he had canceled a secret meeting set for Sunday at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan leaders. Seddqi said it doesn't believe talks between the United States and Taliban will continue "at this stage" after Trump abruptly called them off. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
ADDS DATE - Smoke rises as angry Kabul residents set fire to part of the Green Village compound that has been attacked frequently, a day after a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. An interior ministry spokesman said some hundreds of foreigners were rescued after the attack targeted the compound, which houses several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Smoke rises as angry Kabul residents set fire to part of the Green Village compound that has been attacked frequently, a day after a Taliban suicide attack. An interior ministry spokesman said some hundreds of foreigners were rescued after the attack targeted the compound, which houses several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Wounded men receive treatment in a hospital after a large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, which government officials said targeted an area home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Wounded men receive treatment in a hospital after a large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, which government officials said targeted an area home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Afghan security personnel arrives at the site of large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, which government officials said targeted an area home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Nishanuddin Khan)
Wounded men receive treatment in a hospital after a large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, which government officials said targeted an area home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Wounded men receive treatment in a hospital, after a large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, which government officials said targeted an area home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Men bury Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, the spokesperson of the Kunduz Police headquarters, who was killed in a suicide attack on Saturday, in Kunduz province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. The Taliban attacked a second Afghan city in as many days on Sunday and killed several members of security forces, officials said, even as Washington's peace envoy said the U.S. and the militant group are "at the threshold of an agreement" to end America's longest war. (AP Photo/Bashir Khan Safi)
Afghan security forces arrive during a fight against Taliban fighters in Kunduz province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. The Taliban have launched a new large-scale attack on one of Afghanistan's main cities, Kunduz, and taken hospital patients as hostages, the government said Saturday, even as the insurgent group continued negotiations with the United States on ending America's longest war. (AP Photo/Bashir Khan Safi)
A wounded man receives treatment in a hospital, after a large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, which government officials said targeted an area home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Afghan children look out from a broken window at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Angry Afghan protesters burn tires and shout slogans at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Afghan security personnel fires towards Taliban positions on the street in Kunduz, Afghanistan August 31, 2019 in this still image taken from a video obtained by REUTERS. Afghan Interior Ministry/ReutersTV via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Sediq Sediqqi, spokesperson for the President of Afghanistan gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Kabul on September 8, 2019. - US President Donald Trump's announcement that he had called off negotiations with the Taliban, apparently ending a year-long diplomatic push to exit America's longest war, has left the withdrawal deal shrouded in uncertainty. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A wounded man is brought by ambulance to the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital following a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2019. - The Taliban killed at least five people in a fresh bombing in Kabul on September 5 in yet another horrific attack on the Afghan capital as the US and the insurgents negotiate a deal to see American troops leave the country. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A wounded man receives treatment at the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital following a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2019. - The Taliban killed at least five people in a fresh bombing in Kabul on September 5 in yet another horrific attack on the Afghan capital as the US and the insurgents negotiate a deal to see American troops leave the country. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan firefighters work at a parking lot near the site where a tractor packed with explosives exploded the night before at the Green Village in Kabul on September 3, 2019. - A massive blast in a residential area of Kabul killed at least 16 people, officials said September 3, following yet another Taliban attack that came as the insurgents and Washington try to finalise a withdrawal deal. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A US military helicopter flies near the site of a massive explosion the night before near the Green Village in Kabul on September 3, 2019. - A massive blast in a residential area of Kabul killed at least 16 people, officials said on September 3, yet another Taliban attack that came as the insurgents and Washington try to finalise a peace deal. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Smoke rises from the site of an attack after a massive explosion the night before near the Green Village in Kabul on September 3, 2019. - A massive blast in a residential area of Kabul killed at least 16 people, officials said on September 3, yet another Taliban attack that came as the insurgents and Washington try to finalise a peace deal. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"Hearing reports the National Procurement Authority won't authorize fuel purchases for the power plant providing the only electricity in Kabul – even while the U.S. & Resolute Support help Afghan security forces enable repairs to power transmission lines. Could this be true?" Bass said in a tweet on Wednesday.

The power crisis intensified further this week after insurgents attack pylons in northern provinces. About a third of the country has been hit by blackouts. (Reporting by Makini Brice in Washington DC, Rupam Jain in Kabul; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.