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SOM meeting: Kabul vows structural reforms for economic growth

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: Assuring the donor nations of corruption-free administration, President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday vowed result-oriented structural reforms for economic growth.

Addressing the Senior Officers Meeting (SOM) of the donor countries, the president highlighted the achievements made in the last 10 months.

Peace process, human rights protection, electoral, judicial and administrative reforms were major areas which the president discussed.

“We have planned to introduce structural reforms that will take Afghanistan from an economy that was built on the consumption of foreign aid to one that is built around rising productivity through commercial investment, creating job opportunities, alleviating poverty and boosting trade and investment,” Ghani said.

He said that investment in agriculture and mining sectors as well as regional connectivity were priorities of the government.

The president said the National Unity Government (NUG) was busy in drafting different laws, including banking, procurement and energy laws, to facilitate the investors.

Speaking about anti-corruption efforts, he said the assessment of contracts is a major step of the government to fight graft. The government has suffered loss of millions of dollars in the contracts. The NUG has saved millions of Afghani as result of the assessment of the contracts, he added.

He further said that revenue collection increased after reforms in the customs department. The president also told the donor nations about prosecution of those involved in corruption.

Regarding protection of women’s rights, Ghani said that four women are in the cabinet while scores of other are working at different government posts.

About the peace process, he said the government is trying its level best to bring back durable peace and stability.

Strengthening of banking regulations, drafting a balanced budget, working on custom tariff for increasing the domestic revenues, recovery of more than $50 million in the Kabul Bank scandal, assessment on the government expenditures were underlined as major reforms by Minister of Finance, Muhammad Eklil Hakemi.

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, said the Afghan government has been serious in brining structural reforms.

Later, in a joint press conference with Nicholas Haysom, the Afghan finance minister said the donors in the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) vowed to continue supporting the Afghan government.

He said the government’s programs had convinced the donor countries to provide donations. The finance minister underlined the summit as a successful one, saying the partners assured to hold another conference in Warsaw, the capital of Hungry, to renew pledges and assess the commitments made in the Kabul summit.

Presidents and prime ministers of the NATO member countries and donors will attend the summit to renew their pledges in civilian and military areas based on priorities and requirements, he said.

Nicholas Haysom said the international community in the next year’s summit would renew pledges.

He termed the SOM summit important, saying that both the international community and Afghan administration vowed to fulfill their commitments.

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