USAID is denying that a $335 million “vital component” of their mission to aid the massive energy deficit in Kabul, Afghanistan is an utter failure, but a new report contradicts that claim.
A power plant built by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is extremely underused and in danger of being wasted, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). USAID attempted to defend itself by saying the plant was only built to provide occasional backup and insurance for Kabul’s electrical grid, not for electrical power on a continuous basis. SIGAR’s report provides evidence that the plant was built for regular usage.
First, the basis of design was for a base load plant, built to operate 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Also, the plant hasn’t made any impact on reducing Kabul’s massive energy deficit that USAID says is one of the plant’s main priorities. Not only is it not being used regularly, but it’s not even contributing additional electricity to increase the overall power supply in Kabul.
The Tarakhil Power Plant was built in July 2007 on the outskirts of Kabul, with the intention of supplying 18 diesel engines worth of operating power. Since Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) – Afghanistan’s national power utility – assumed responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the facility in 2010, the plant has only performed at a shred of its total capability. Between July 2010 and December 2013, the USAID IG found that the plant performed at a mere 2.2 percent of its potential.
Since the Tarakhil Power Plant was used incorrectly and only on an intermittent basis, the plant has suffered premature wear and tear on its engine and electrical components. The damage is expected to raise already steep operation and maintenance costs.
Top Reads from the Fiscal Times:
- How ‘King Coal’ Could Swing the 2016 Election
- Kerry to Congress: Sign the Iran Deal or the Dollar Gets Hit
- China’s Currency Devaluation Brings Stocks to a 'Death Cross'
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”