24 March 2018

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Tuesday January 30, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan and the World Bank on Sunday signed a $100 million grant agreement to improve management of public finances by strengthening the capacity of the core government agencies involved.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was present when Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi and World Bank country director for Afghanistan Shubham Chaudhuri signed the agreement at the Presidential Palace, a statement from the Ministry of Finance said.
Under the agreement, a $100 million grant will be provided for the Fiscal Performance Improvement Support Project (FSP) designed to improve management of Afghanistan’s public finances by strengthening the capacity of the core government agencies involved, including Ministry of Finance, National Procurement Authority and Supreme Audit Office.
The financing includes a $25 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and a $75 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.
It will result in improving development budget execution, increasing revenue collection, and strengthening government capacity to perform more efficiently and effectively.
“Afghanistan has made significant progress in establishing a functional Public Financial Management (PFM) system that has contributed to increasing revenues from about $130 million in 2002 to more than $2.1 billion in 2016,” said Minister Hakimi while signing the agreement.
He said the system was supported under the Public Finance and Expenditure Management Law and Public Procurement Law which had helped implement new reforms in public financial management system as a whole.
“These reforms have increased transparency, accountability, budget credibility, improved tax and customs administration and better cash management,” the minister added.
However, despite maintaining aggregate fiscal discipline, Afghanistan’s PFM systems are not fully developed to ensure strategic allocation of resources and efficient service delivery.
Challenges still remain in several areas, including budget execution, improving revenue collection, and government capacity to build accountability, fight corruption, and attract private sector investment.
“Today’s signing reaffirms the World Bank Group’s commitment to support the Government of Afghanistan’s development and reform agenda,” said Shubham Chaudhuri. “We commend the government’s determination to build upon progress to date in several areas, including public financial management, institutional reforms, and revenue generation.”

Tuesday January 30, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, National Procurement Commission (NPC) held meeting the other day, during which two contracts on construction of Kajaki power dam’s second phase and a project of generating 30mgw solar power in Kandahar were approved, the presidential palace said in a statement.
The contract on second phase of Kajaki power dam in Helmand province worth $174.9 million and its construction is expected to be completed in twenty years, where would generate 151mgw power, according to the statement.
Likewise, the contract on solar power project in Kandahar worth $39 million, in which its construction is expected to be completed in twenty years, where would generate 30mgw solar power, the statement added.
Calling such projects a positive step to provide the ground for creation of domestic energy power the president said the country was moving toward self-sufficiency in term of energy sector, the statement continued.
He said if investment was made in water and energy sector, we would be able to compete with neighboring countries, an action would help decrease the prices and would change Afghanistan into an energy transferring center, the statement added.
Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat in-charges said they would use all available means and besides they would invite professional experts and engineers to help them in the respect.
The meeting discussed and approved two other projects of procurement, installation and design of 220kv substations in Bamyan and Doushi.
The president said they would talk on price of the projects with the winner company and if it failed to complete the project within 700 days, based on law, they would be fined, the statement said.

Sunday, January 28, 2018
Kabul (BNA) Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah met a number of carpet industry union’s representatives at his office on Saturday, Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) reported.
In the meeting, the participants shared their achievements and problems with CE Abdullah, asking him to address their problems, the agency further said.
Increasing exports’ level, inauguration of carpet market in India, holding exhibitions inside and outside the country, establishing a special fund for investors, prevention of raw-materials’ export to abroad, and many more were among the suggestions presented by participants to Dr. Abdullah, the agency added.
They added that carpet exports have increased by 15 percent this year.
After hearing their suggestions and problems, CE Abdullah assured the participants to discuss their problems in economic committee of council of ministers’ meeting and would instruct the relevant organs to step up in the respect.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Kabul (BNA) The ministry of commerce and industry says the new Chabahar transit and trade agreement has been approved by the Iranian parliament and that the capacity of loading and offloading has improved at the port.
The Ministry officials says that although more work is still needed to be done on the port, Afghanistan, India and other countries in the region can now use the port for commercial purposes.
The ministry officials say India and Iran are investing heavily in developing the port and efforts are being done to increase Afghan investment.
“Investment from India, China, and Iran are increasing in Chabahar port, and we are trying to get Afghanistan to also invest in the port,” the head of the transit department of the ministry, Mohammad Yahya Akhlaqi, said.
Chabahar port is 871.9km from Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, while Karachi port is 1,416km from Torkham.
Many economists say that if Iran and India provide more opportunities to Afghan businessmen, this route will be an alternative to Pakistan’s Karachi port.
“The Chabahar port has good transportation and transit benefits for Afghans, and I think that soon, the Iranian port of Chabahar will be an alternative to Pakistan’s Karachi port and routes,” said Abdul Karim Arifi, an economist.
The Chabahar port is the closest port for Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, many businessmen said that Chabahar port could become an important route for Afghanistan in the long term.
Although the Chabahar port is a new port and still need work, this port is in the Free Zone of Chabahar and Iran and India are trying to ease trade for Afghanistan.

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