The Afghan government on Saturday announced the launching of Dastarkhan-e-Milli program as part of its efforts to help households amid the COVID-19 pandemic who are facing economic hardship.
Speaking on the occasion, President Ashraf Ghani said that 90 percent of the population in the country is living below the poverty line and that the new package will cover 90 percent of households.
Based on the program, in the first stage, the government will allocate $86 million and then $158 million in the second phase to provide food to people across the country.
The first stage will cover over 1.7 million families in 13,000 villages in 34 provinces of the country.
“If we collect both figures, over 90 percent of the population in Afghanistan will benefit from the package, the second phase will cost $158 million,” said Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president of Afghanistan.
“Still there are serious dangers, therefore we all need to take the guidelines seriously,” said Mohammad Sarwar Danish, the second vice president of Afghanistan, referring to the dangers of COVID-19.
“I receive reports from several places that the honorable district governors tried to get some of the money. If I saw them, I will hang them from their legs,” said Ghani, warning those who would embezzle the funds.
In May, the government had announced a free bread distribution program to the needy people in Kabul and in the provinces.
The initiative was designed to provide aid through the city’s bakeries to those in need during the lockdown.
But later on, the needy families claimed that the program was compromised by corruption.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the bread distribution process in the first phase cost Afs2.8 billion (over $36 million) of which Afs1.15 billion (over $14.8 million) was spent in Kabul.
Based on the statistics, 38 percent of the population in Afghanistan was living under the poverty line in 2014 when Ghani became president following Hamid Karzai. The figure rose to 55 percent in 2017 and now Ghani says that 90 percent of the population is below the poverty line.