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Donors reiterate aid pledges to Afghan government

in Afghan Business

Donors reiterate aid pledges to Afghan government

 argThe international community on Wednesday at the conference on the evaluation of Afghanistan’s commitments progress reaffirmed the aid pledges held out at last year’s Tokyo Conference.

“Our international colleagues have once again renewed their commitment to 16 billion dollars assistance, which had been promised at the Tokyo Conference,” said Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal.

He added: “It is very important that the assistance is delivered in accordance with the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework and the Afghan government’s priorities through the national budget in order to make the assistance more effective.”

Afghanistan had promised at the Tokyo Conference to enhance efforts towards combating corruption, promoting good governance, protecting human rights and improving women’s situation.

In return, the US and other donor nations supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai pledged to provide Afghanistan with at least USD 16bn in development aid through 2015.

The donor countries and the Afghan government had agreed to meet once  a year to assess the enforcement of aid pledges.

Wednesday’s conference was aimed at “incentivizing” the allocations promised; in other words, meaning of the speed of their disbursement will be tied more directly to the Afghan government’s performance on human rights, transparency and other issues.

Senior officials from 40 donor countries were present at the conference accompanied by representatives from 8 international organizations, civil society and private sector.

UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative Mark Bowden called on the government to take concrete actions to address the nation’s administrative corruption and human rights issues, as they still remain a major concern.

For his part, top UN envoy Jan Kubis reassured the people of Afghanistan that the UN and the world were ready to continue to assist the war-torn country in areas of peace, prosperity and security.

He called for close cooperation between donor countries and the Afghan government in making the aid effective by ensuring transparency and proper management.

The diplomat added the participants would explore ways of dealing with hurdles to next year’s presidential and provincial council elections.

Meanwhile, Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said the government is committed to its promises and is making efforts to put in place a system of accountability for the sake of continued foreign aid flows.

He reflected on some of the positive changes made in the development of Afghans’ economic life and the achievements made in the fields of education, health and infrastructure.

Acknowledging the progress Afghanistan has witnessed, a representative of the US embassy reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Afghanistan, as spelled out in the Strategic Partnership Agreement and said the US would continue to support through the ongoing security and political transitions and into the next decade.

He also announced the establishment of a new $175 million bilateral incentive program to encourage progress on the full range of Tokyo reforms. The US plans to make up to $75 million in incentive funding available this year and up to an additional $100 million next year.

The new program will promote Afghan reform progress with flexible funding to be used for development projects or other needs prioritized by the Afghan government. But the funds will only be available if specific and concrete progress is made toward the Tokyo goals, including on elections, anti-corruption, and women’s rights.

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