World Bank provides 50 mln USD to boost Afghan development

Kabul, Aug. 8 (Xinhua-ANI): The World Bank provided a grant of 50 million U.S. dollars to the Afghan government to help strengthen legal, regulatory and institutional reforms in the war-hit country, said a bank statement issued here Thursday.

"The Development Policy Programmatic Series: 'Promoting Economic Growth and Fiscal Sustainability', which is a series of two programmatic grants, aims at supporting policy reforms in selected areas critical to strengthening revenue mobilization and improving the enabling environment for investment in sectors with a high growth potential," the statement said.

"To this end the operation supports legal, regulatory and institutional reforms in customs, land administration and management, mining, and information and communication technologies," it said, adding, "The second grant in the project series is expected to commence by the end of 2013."

"The World Bank stands with the Afghan government to implement necessary policy reforms and pave the way for investments in sectors with high growth potential," said World Bank acting Head of Office for Afghanistan Paul Edwin Sisk.

"This particular grant will help the government maintain growth momentum during the transition and beyond. As the international aid is expected to decline, this grant will also strengthen revenue mobilization and fiscal sustainability," he said.

The announcement came as Afghan security forces are taking the lead in providing security for the country. Foreign forces are expected to leave the country by the end of 2014.

The reforms supported by the project respond to some of the most important development challenges Afghanistan will face during transition and beyond.

According to World Bank analysis, the anticipated decline in foreign aid could reduce Afghanistan's growth prospects to about half of its current average. Poverty rates are persistently high and labor market pressures are increasing with 400,000 to 500,000 young people entering Afghanistan's labor force every year.

"Moreover, the fiscal budget relies to a large degree on donor financing and financing needs are expected to increase as a result of the hand-over of security and development responsibilities to the Afghan government and further expansion of public service delivery," it noted.

The Afghan Ministry of Finance will be responsible for overall implementation and monitoring of the reform program, the statement added. (Xinhua-ANI)

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