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World Bank commits $350mn to support reforms

AT-KABUL: The World Bank has committed $350 million to support reforms, curb poverty, and create jobs and foster public sector Afghanistan, said government authorities on Monday.

Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Finance signed the package of grant agreements on Monday with the WB Country Director for Afghanistan Shubham Chaudhuri.

According to a statement, the reforms are designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness in government operations for better revenue mobilization and service delivery. And the new financing package supports reforms in the business environment, the energy sector, and land administration to promote economic growth and employment and reduce poverty for all Afghans.

Out of $350 million, a sum of $300 million will be earmarked for the Incentive Program Development Policy Grant (IP-DPG), including $90 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $210 million from the ARTF, administered by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors. The IP-DPG aims to help the Government of Afghanistan continue maintaining a stable macroeconomic environment and pursue an ambitious program of policy reforms to support economic growth, private sector investment, poverty reduction, and improved public financial management.

Another $50 million will be funneled for the Public-Private Partnerships and Public Investment Advisory Project, which aims to develop a pipeline of feasible private and publicly funded projects to further develop Afghanistan’s infrastructure. The project will be financed by a $20 million grant from IDA and $30 million co-financing from ARTF.

Speaking on the occasion, the finance minister said, “This new World Bank’s support is fully aligned with the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework, which will strengthen the policy framework to support state effectiveness, private sector investment, growth, poverty reduction, and improve public financial management.”

He extolled the World Bank and donors of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) for their largesse to the people of Afghanistan, calling on them to maintain their contribution in areas that are vital for Afghanistan’s economic growth.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Hartwig Schafer, a newly appointed World Bank Vice President for South Asia, who is currently visiting Afghanistan to discuss reforms and development progress in the country with the Afghan government and its international partners.

Speaking about the Public-Private Partnerships and Public Investment Advisory Project, Hartwig Schafer said that “This is a step towards maximizing the financing available for Afghanistan’s development. By mobilizing private capital for large investments, this project can boost progress towards some of Afghanistan’s key development priorities. It is a way to create partnerships that can benefit not only the Government and private sector businesses, but most importantly the people of Afghanistan.”

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