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Ministry of Finance Press Review Feb 4-10

By Keith Hayes,2014-05-07 12:26
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Ministry of Finance Press Review Feb 4-10

    BearingPoint AEGP Public Relations and Media Office

    Weekly Press Review February 4 - 10

Headlines

Canada increases its role in microfinance program

Businessmen complain of taxes

ADB allocated USD 4 million to restore education

Financing the Ministry of Finance

Pottery, Istalif-style

The silence of the lambs

OTF invests in Afghanistan

Zabul's first radio goes on air after 26 years

The Trouble with NGOs in Afghanistan

Untangling Kabul’s Traffic

Building hydropower plants government’s agenda: Minister

Coalition forces to establish five new teams for reconstruction efforts

$5 million Japanese contribution to expand Heart power generation

Provincial Reconstruction Team grants 50.000 USD to the Ministry of Finance

NGOs threaten to close offices in Afghanistan

Afghan nation should think of Aryan as national bank: bank director

Building a bridge of friendship between Kabul and Tehran

Afghan president seeks WB aid for anti-drugs drive

    Kandahari traders to benefit from storage facilities

    Four Telecommunication Ministry branches to be built in Kundoz

    Capacity building seminar for the Chamber of Commerce staff

    Preliminary meeting on second round of population census

    The private sector requires a specific and clear policy

    Hedayad Amin Arsala meets with Pakistani President

Indian ambitions in the pipeline

    Afghan finance chief seeks to allay donor nations' fears

Crisis in Supreme Court

Five Finance Ministry zones computerized

First independent women-managed radio inaugurated in Maimana, Afghanistan

Press Clippings

Zabul's first radio goes on air after 26 years

    By Saeed Zabulai

    KANDAHAR, Feb. 08

    (Pajhwok Afghan News)

    The only radio station in the southern province of Zabul, has been reactivated after 26 years with the help of the civil-military Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the southern province of Zabul. On Monday, local people turned on their radios to hear Zabul Radio broadcasting for four hours from the provincial capital of Kalat.

    Zabul Radio stopped operations during the early years of the war against the Soviet troops. During the ensuing civil war the station was robbed and many machines destroyed.

    Broadcasting on 78.5 MHZ, the radio signal reaches 25 kilometers of the area around Kalat city. Saida Jan Ghamkhor, director of the radio, said the four-hour broadcast will have news, cultural, educational and other programs.

    Local inhabitants welcomed the move. "Though we know about the developments and international news as well as news about Afghanistan from other radios(whose signals can be received in the area), it will be good for us to know about the local news and developments through this radio," Ali Ahmad, a 25-year old from Siorai district told Pajhwok.

The Trouble with NGOs in Afghanistan

    Tech Central Station

    02/07/2005

    By Don D'Cruz

    Afghanistan's planning minister, Dr. Ramazan Bashar Dost, was forced to resign recently after a series of disputes with non-government organizations (NGOs. The western educated technocrat has discovered the extent to which NGOs are held beyond criticism. Dr. Bashar Dost spelt out his criticisms in an interview for The Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

    First and foremost on Dost's list of complaints was that most NGOs spent money ineffectively and inefficiently. He said "I have yet to see an NGO that has spent 80 per cent of its money for the benefit of the Afghans and 20 per cent for their own benefit." He went on: "International NGOs get big amounts of money from their own nations just by showing them sensitive pictures and videos of Afghan people, but [NGOs] spend all the

    money on themselves, and we are unable to find out how much money they originally received in charitable funds."

    The former minister stated that out of $4.5 billion pledged to Afghanistan by international donors at the Tokyo conference in 2003, about a third has been allocated to international NGOs and a further third to the United Nations. But while the NGOs and UN get the bulk of the money, it's the democratically-elected government, which gets only a third itself that will be held accountable by the Afghan people for the success or failure of the reconstruction effort.

    Bashar Dost had proposed a program to monitor NGOs' relations with Afghan government departments and to enhance transparency in their activities, including in their finances.

    A second major complaint Bashar Dost expressed about NGOs in the interview was that NGOs attracted many qualified government employees to work for them with higher salaries, depriving the fledgling Karzai administration of the best people at a time when

    they needed them most. This is a common criticism by developing world governments of Western NGOs.

    Bashar Dost found there were simply too many NGOs to work effectively in the country. He even imposed a moratorium on registering new NGOs. "We don't have NGOs in Afghanistan, but we have NGO-ism, and we want to get rid of the NGO-ism, not the NGOs," he said.

    The problem with so many NGOs and NGOism was compounded by their tax exempt status, of which Bashar Dost was particularly critical. That status came at the expense of commercial companies who would have paid taxes to the cash-strapped Afghani government but lost out in securing lucrative government contracts to the NGOs. Bashar Dost attributed the NGO success in getting contracts to their cozy relationships with senior government officials, including ministers, some of whom were formerly their employees.

    He complained that there were some so-called NGOs that operated for profit like private companies, did not pay tax and were largely unaccountable to the Afghan government. Yet they still were capable of directing relief efforts influentially, in some cases, more influential than either the government of the private sector.

    Many of Basher Dost's concerns about local NGOs were supported by a spokesman from CARE. Its advocacy coordinator conceded in IRIN News that the majority of the more than 1,500 national and over 300 international NGOs registered with the Ministry of Planning were not real NGOs.

    The CARE spokesman went as far as to suggest that a portion of the NGOs are actually corrupt: "They are either NGOs for tax purposes or they are those opportunists that have

    set up NGOs to get the resources and steal resources from the Afghan people," the coordinator said.

    It was Basher Dost's attack on NGOs that ultimately led to his ousting, proposing 2,000 NGOs -- 80 percent of those claiming to be national or international aid agencies -- be wound up for being ineffective and corrupt. Bashar Dost's claim was bold: for some time now Western Governments have looked to NGOs as impartial and transparent actors in the development process. The United Nations and large international NGOs, such as CARE, World Vision, Oxfam, Save the Children and the like, have stepped in to take much funding developing governments once received.

    Since the end of the Cold War, these organizations have grown exponentially as official government aid agencies. Today, some of the big brand-name multinational NGOs are as large agencies in the UN family. The result is large and influential organizations.

    Much NGO work is valuable in developing regions. The problem is that the exponential growth of NGOs has occurred without any corresponding development in these organizations' accountability mechanisms.

    Like all organizations, NGOs must be both responsible for their actions and subject to scrutiny, in order to function efficiently. Where relevant, their goals as profit-making entities must be made explicit. Their status as tax free organizations must be deserved. Where appropriate, their goals as lobbying entities particularly if they receive public funds towards the purpose should be made clear to government and public alike.

    Whether 80 percent of the NGOs in Afghanistan are inefficient and ineffective is not entirely clear. What is clear, from the fate of Dr. Bashar Dost, is that NGOs can be influential in defending their patch. Developing and disaster-stricken countries need efficient and accountable aid: this can only be achieved with proper checks and balances.

Untangling Kabul’s Traffic

    IWPR

    02/07/2005

    By Wahidullah Amani

    Officials hope that traffic lights and car parks will ease the city's congestion Kabul Like cities everywhere in the world; Kabul is facing a surge in traffic that sometimes threatens to strangle the capital. Now, three government agencies are working to ease the congestion.

    The city government is planning to construct a number of car parks while the traffic department is busy installing new traffic signals in an attempt to bring some order to the current chaos on the streets.

    In addition, the ministry of transport is planning to build car parks near the main entrances to the capital to get more vehicles off the roads. General Abdul Shakoor Khairkhwah, head of the traffic department in Kabul, blamed the lack of parking spaces for much of the city's current problems.

    "In the past there was some parking for taxis and buses in the city, but Kabul municipality gave these areas over for building purposes," he said.

    Meanwhile, Khairkhwah's agency is busy installing traffic signals at as many as 100 intersections and roundabouts. "Until now, only 14 intersections had traffic lights," he said, adding that his department had completed about a third of the installations and the rest should be finished by the end of March.

    While Khairkhwah insisted that the traffic lights already installed were working, he conceded that they were not actually in operation most of the time, a fact he blamed on a lack of electricity. "Kabul Electricity is not in a position to supply power to the intersections continuously," he said.

    Khairkhwah's claim was disputed by Amrullah Sarhadi, the head of Kabul Electricity. "Unfortunately the traffic department has not asked us to supply power for the signals," he said. "Only a small amount is needed and we can afford that.Meanwhile, the city

    government is working on plans to provide more parking.

    Ghulam Farooq Quraishi, head of design with the Kabul planning department, said, "We are considering having small and large parking lots in various parts of the city." He mentioned a site next to the ministry of education as the site of a proposed three-storey car park. "The first and second floors would be used for different types of private vehicles and the ground floor can be used for buses," he said.

    Mohammad Ibrar Bakhshi, head of the private transport sector at the ministry of transport, said, "Apart from city centre car parks, we are planning to construct parking lots at the four entrances [north, south, east and west] to the city.

    "We want to build terminals for the trucks, taxis and buses that come from the provinces to drop and collect passengers. If we erect those on the outskirts, we can prevent some of the massive traffic build-ups in the city centre."

    But at least one official has his doubts as to whether any of these measures will help alleviate traffic congestion.

    "Until we construct more intersections, traffic signals will bring no advantage," said General Amir Mohammad, in charge of traffic in the city centre. "Another cause of delays is the high number of roundabouts, some of which are only 100 meters apart. “Kabul can accommodate around 80,000 vehicles but there are now more than 300,000

    clogging up the city's roads.”

    Mohammad said the narrowness of the city's streets, the increased number of unskilled drivers and large numbers of pedestrians all contribute to the congestion. Taxi driver Mujtaba, 35, agreed that untrained drivers were the main problem on Afghan streets.

    "The main problems are unprofessional drivers and those who don't have licenses," he said. "They are not familiar with the traffic laws. There should be educational programs on TV to make them into considerate drivers.

    "The police are currently directing traffic at intersections and they are unable to control drivers, so what will happen when they are replaced by traffic lights?"

    Coalition forces to establish five new teams for reconstruction efforts By Najib Khilwatgar

    KABUL, Feb. 07

    (Pajhwok Afghan News)

    The US-led coalition forces will establish five new provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan. The PRTs are part of the civilian reconstruction efforts carried out by the Coalition Forces as well as the NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

    Colonel Randy Brooks, Director of Civil Military Operations for the coalition forces told a press conference on Monday that the five additional PRTs would bring the total number of PRTs to 24.

    "These teams support the Afghan government to expand its control and authority to all parts of the country, to protect security and improve the reconstruction process in provinces," said Col. Brooks.

    At present, five teams out of the 19 PRTs are under ISAF and the rest under the Coalition Forces. The ISAF PRTs are in the Northern provinces while the coalition forces are in south, east and southeast of the country.

NGOs threaten to close offices in Afghanistan

    PakTribune.com

    6 February 2005

    Most of the NGOs working in Afghanistan have threatened of shutting down offices in the country, Radio Tehran reported.

    According to detail, over three thousands NGOs working in Afghanistan held a press conference the other day and expressed grave concern over the government report of dissatisfaction with the work of these non-governmental Organizations.

    Former Afghan Planning Minister Ramzan Bashardoost had also criticized these NGOs not working for the public welfare and alleged that NGOs working in the country use aid for their personals luxuries.

Afghan nation should think of Aryan as national bank: bank director

    MehrNews.com

    6 February 2005

    TEHRAN,- In addition to boosting trade relations between Iran and Afghanistan, the Aryan Bank will pave the way for the reconstruction and economic development of this country, a fax released by the Bank Millie Iran said here Sunday.

“Inauguration of the Aryan Bank during the Ten- Day Dawn celebrations is an auspicious

    beginning with which another golden page is turned in the joint long- lasting history of friendship of the two neighboring and Muslim nations”, the report quoted the managing director of the Bank Millie Iran as saying.

    The Afghan people should not regard Aryan Bank as a foreign bank operating in their country rather, they should consider it as the manifestation of the resolution of the two great Iranian and Afghan nations to furthermore expand their economic relations, the two nations that inherit and enjoy a profound joint culture and civilization, noted the managing director of the Bank Millie Iran.

    The report also referred to Iran’s allocation of 500 million dollars for financial and developmental assistance to Afghanistan and asserted that Aryan Bank could play an effective role in directing and orienting portions of the fund delineated by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) to facilitate and boost the trade relations and commercial transactions between the two countries.

    Elsewhere in the report, Seyf noted that Iranian nation has never thought of their Afghan brothers and sisters who during the past two decades of war and hostilities took refuge in Iran, as foreigners rather, they regarded them as their dear guests who in search of peace, tranquility and a decent life resided in their second home, Iran.

“The Afghan nation should think of Aryan Bank as its national bank and assist it to

    materialize its objectives that are mainly, development of Afghanistan and facilitation of the trade relations between the two countries of Iran and Afghanistan.

BUILDING A BRIDGE OF FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN KABUL AND TEHRAN

    Gulf News

    6 February 2005

    By: Abdullah Al Madani, Special to Gulf News

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent visit to Tehran was viewed as another

    significant step towards enhancing Kabul-Tehran bilateral ties. The two neighbors have

    witnessed growing cooperation since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001.

The visit was the culmination of the two countries’ efforts to rid themselves of decades of

    suspicions and to establish closer relations.

However, one cannot analyze the two neighbors’ ties by relying on these outer features.

    Any attempt in this regard, without taking into consideration the American factor, may

    lead to an incorrect conclusion, given Kabul’s alliance with Washington and Iran-US

    hostile relations.

Iranian-Afghan relations have undergone several changes in the last five decades.

    Generally, they can be divided into five distinct phases:

In the first phase, ending in 1973 with the collapse of the Afghan monarchy, the

    relationship was characterized by intimacy and cooperation, particularly due to personal

    ties between the two countries’ ruling houses.

This was despite Kabul’s refusal of the Shah of Iran’s attempts to include Afghanistan in

    the West-backed regional strategic schemes (such as the Baghdad Pact) and Tehran’s

    uneasiness over Kabul’s preference for joining the Non-Aligned Movement.

One of the problems faced by the Shah at that time was differences between Kabul and

    his Pakistani ally over border disputes inherited from the colonial era, something that was

    about to develop into a war in the 1960s.

Relying on his influence in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and using his country’s

    financial clout to provide them with aid, the Shah succeeded in calming the situation.

Relations in the second phase, ending with the communist coup in Afghanistan in 1978

    against President Daoud Khan, were maintained but with less cooperation and contacts,

    especially with the Daoud Khan regime tilting towards the Soviets and embracing

    socialism.

The coup and the consequent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which roughly coincided

    with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, marked the beginning of the third phase.

In this period which lasted nearly 12 years, relations suffered a serious setback as there

    was nothing in common between Afghanistan’s communist and Iran’s Islamic regimes,

    especially with the latter’s support of the anti Kabul and Soviet Mujahedin.

    Despite dissatisfaction with its American enemy and regional rival’s use of the Jihad in Afghanistan to enhance their positions, Iran’s theological regime had no choice but to

    support the Jihad in order not to lose credibility among Muslims.

    Relations in the fourth phase, beginning with the arrival of the Mujahedin to power in Kabul in 1991, was marked by covert suspicion and mistrust as a result of Kabul’s

    sectarian policy and Tehran’s continuous interference in Afghan domestic affairs through assisting Afghan Shiite militants and tribesmen.

    This, however, developed into an overt hostility after the Taliban came to power in 1996. The two countries nearly went to war over the Taliban’s rigid treatment of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority, and particularly the killings of Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif.

    The US-led fall of the Taliban in 2001 brought the Iranians a great relief, initiating the fifth, ongoing, phase. However, with American troops stationed close to their eastern border, the Iranians felt insecure, making them play a double game.

    While it helped make a deal at the Bonn Conference on the future of Afghanistan, voiced its support to the Karzai interim government, and pledged to assist the reconstruction process, Tehran continued providing its agents in Afghanistan with arms and cash to oppose Karzai’s authority and the deployment of coalition troops in the country’s western provinces.

    Tehran also hosted the Pashton warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the former premier who has fought every Afghan government since 1979, trying to use him as a card against Karzai and Washington. Additionally, it was reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were in regular contact with Al Qaida.

    Such a confusing policy towards Afghanistan is probably attributed to the power struggle within the Iranian regime between the conservatives and reformists.

    While reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, during a visit to Kabul last year, was showering his Afghan counterpart with praise, the Ressalat, a newspaper representing the conservative camp led by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, expressed its opposition to the visit, describing Karzai as an agent of the CIA.

    Karzai’s efforts to strengthen ties with Tehran stem from two goals: the employment of Iran’s influence among Afghan Shiite to broaden his government control and the use of its financial clout to enhance Afghanistan’s economy and fund the reconstruction process.

    While it is difficult to measure Iran’s response to the first goal, its response to the second goal has been positive to the extent that Western officials have recognized it.

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