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Editorial: Fixing economy

National economy is growing slowly as compared to the last year. The growth is slower when compared to the past five years. Ending unemployment and poverty by improving economy was a major focal point of the presidential campaigns in 2014. The government has claimed drafting strategies to attract investors, introduce reforms, and support the local industries. Beyond promises of the leaders in the power corridor, media commentators, researchers and others are debating the national economy to suggest measures that would give new life to the ailing Afghan economy. Absence of agreement between the stakeholders, including traders, investors, leaders, policymakers and parliamentarians, is a major obstacle to overcome.

Afghan people can provide valuable input to help the government to make wise choices. People play key role in economic growth. Therefore, their insights can help the government to craft result-oriented economic strategies. In addition to that the policymakers should be in touch with economist and economic observers for important suggestions. If their proposals are compiled, it will help the leaders to address the challenges hampering the national economic growth because some of these proposals are result of rich experience and close observations. These inputs would not only bring small adjustments to the country’s economic system but would also have a wider impact.

Since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has hinted about arrangements of new loans to the Afghan government, policymakers shall execute the reforms strategy. Without reforms, the government cannot convince IMF. The team of the international money lending organization has already completed homework about problems and prospects of Afghan economy. They are worried about the fragile economic situation, insecurity and differences among politicians. The country’s banking system is not doing well. Da Afghanistan Bank or the central bank has failed to plug the loopholes and “address the vulnerabilities in the financial sector”. Without implementing the reforms programs, the leaders would not be able to improve the nation’s economy. The IMF’s Extended Credit Facility will not address the existing problems if not backed by a comprehensive reforms strategy.

Although, the Ministry of Finance said to present a four years economic reform policy to its partners during the coming NATO summit in Brussels, but it will not help unless ground was paved for increased women participation in the public and private sectors. Improving economy without women’s participation will remain only a dream. They are fifty percent to the workforce. To increase women’s participation, the government draft laws ensuring equal pay to women for equal work.

Moreover, the government shall introduce and improve job training for graduates. Vocational training to uneducated people will be a major push. Simplifying the tax procedure is also of utmost importance when it comes to reforms. Many people are paying bribe to avoid long queues and complicated process at the tax collection centers. The problem of brain drain is also a setback for the economy. To address this issue the government shall reform the immigration law. Many talented people from different countries are working in Afghanistan for years but they are unable to settle here. The process of settlement of foreigners shall be made easy. People, of whom we are afraid, can prove great assets to the country. Those who lived for five years in the country shall be entitled to get citizenship of Afghanistan.

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