19 September 2018

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SOM Hails Government’s Development Progress, Reform Policy

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Kabul (BNA) Afghan government, representatives of the civil society and private sector and from the international community met in Kabul on Thursday to discuss “progress and achievements of the Afghan government.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani opened the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) here on Thursday at the presidential palace. The meeting comes exactly one year after the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan.
Minister of Finance Eklil Hakimi and UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto chaired the meeting’s sessions, which focused on two main themes: governance and enabling the private sector.
Addressing the session, President Ghani said today’s meeting was part of a larger conversation about how Afghanistan be an effective partner with the international community to build a better future for the country’s children, a future that is free from terrorism and violence.
Pledging Afghanistan’s unwavering commitment to end corruption, the president said: “We recently endorsed a highly pragmatic, but we believe very realistic national anti-corruption strategy that is already being put into practice.”
President Ghani thanked the international community for its continued support to Afghanistan, saying his government had been able to deal with many economic, security and political challenges during the past three years, significantly reducing the problems.
Three years back, he said, the international community started withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan and since the Afghan forces were able to deny the Taliban and their allies’ safe havens in the country.
After the Taliban failed to achieve their ominous goals, they carried out barbaric attacks against the people of Afghanistan and shed the bloods of a large number of Afghans including women and children, President Ghani said.
He said the Afghan forces should receive more training and become more professional as well as would be equipped with advanced weapons.
The president went on saying that the economy of Afghanistan had been in trouble three years ago when he was elected as the president. The country’s economic growth fell from 10 percent to two percent that time and when foreign forces withdrew, the situation was critical, he added. But the Afghan government was committed to rescuing the country from its economic crisis.
“I have promised to stabilize Afghanistan’s economy, the Ministry of Finance and Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) with support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have taken some steps in this regard,” the president said. He said the Afghan government wanted to strengthen its business relations with the world and make Afghanistan a connection bridge between regional countries.
“There is significant capacity in investment in mining, agriculture, energy and other areas in Afghanistan,” he added. Developments have been made in attracting investment and promoting the private sector. Some laws have been prepared, some taxes were nullified and the license issuance process was simplified,” he said.
President Ghani said foreign aid to Afghanistan was being spent transparently. His government was committed to holding Wolesi Jirga and provincial council elections next year and the presidential elections in 2019.
Ensuring security, fighting administrative corruption and law enforcement were main responsibilities of the government and problems in these areas should be responded by the government itself, he said.
He added steps were taken for eradication of corruption and the Afghan government had been able to investigate 300 corruption cases by creating the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC). Those found guilty in the cases were imprisoned, including senior security officials, he added. He said the Citizen Charter program was implemented in the whole of the country and it was going ahead without facing any problem.
“Women are important part of this program,” said the president, who added some steps for countering narcotics had been taken but security problems hindered progress in this regard.
At the end of his speech, the president stressed institutionalization of democracy, enforcement of law equally on all and providing equal services to citizens of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile Yamamoto said the achievements deserved recognition and encouraged participants to use the meeting to decide how the government and its partners “will continue moving forward, together.”
“On behalf of the United Nations, I affirm our commitment to continuously advancing our efforts to deliver as one UN, in line with the development aspirations so vividly put forward in the ANPDF,” said Yamamoto, who stressed that real change was ‘complex” and “takes time.”
“In the ANPDF, the government links development progress to Afghans’ right, their demand, to live in a country that is at peace and on the road to self-reliance,” he said.
“I challenge all of the partners, activists, business men and women, and officials here to consider each element of our work through the lens of its contribution to peace; if we can do that, we can contribute to the future that Afghans envision, and with which all of us in the international community wish to see Afghanistan succeed.”
Dr. Abdullah said supporting the private sector and encouraging domestic and foreign investment through strategic incentives and a friendlier environment were important pillars of Afghanistan’s growth strategy.
“To get to these goals, we have to overcome reform implementation challenges and remove impediments,” he said.
“I am overseeing the progress of 11 medium-term private sector reform agenda items; this would allow us to expedite corruption-free and pro-investment policies and regulations in such areas as agri-business, the extractive industry, telecom, construction and local industries,” the CEO said.
In addition, Abdullah stressed the importance of free and fair elections: “We have learned the hard lessons of the past decade to understand that free and fair election in Afghanistan is a key to stability, rule of law, democratic rights and unity in the country.”
Dr. Abdullah went on to say, “President Ghani and I are fully committed to organize credible and viable parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of our mandate.”
Minister Hakimi stressed the government’s commitment to ANPDF, which he said would build strong institutions, a solid revenue base and a vibrant private sector in the country.
“Fostering inclusive economic growth, enabling the private sector, creating jobs, serving our citizens and ending corruption; the ANPDF is our plan to achieve this,” said Hakimi.
“Real economic growth is needed to help lift our people out of poverty; to do this, we must get the conditions right for the private sector and improve the investment climate.”
At the 2012 Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, the Afghan Government and the international community agreed to conduct annual high-level meetings to discuss progress on Afghanistan’s development and reform priorities. The last such meeting was the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, held 5 October 2016 in Brussels, Belgium, where international partners committed and confirmed their intention to provide USD 15.2 billion (+/- EUR 13.6 billion) in support of Afghanistan’s development priorities for the period 2017-2020, and committed to convene at a senior officials meeting in 2017. Today’s gathering fulfils that commitment in the communique of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan.

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