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World Bank in Afghan aid warning

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KABUL: The World Bank has said it is concerned about the way aid money is being used in Afghanistan. It says President Hamid Karzai’s government needs to have clearer priorities for reducing poverty. And it says more progress is needed in tackling corruption, raising taxes and improving public administration. The government is preparing to ask the international community for some $50bn to finance its reconstruction programme over the next five years.

The request for $50bn will be discussed next week at a conference on Afghanistan in Paris that is vital for the country’s future. Mr Karzai’s government is, for example, looking for significant new funding to develop agriculture which is crucial to efforts to improve food security. The World Bank accepts that this is just the kind of spending for which Afghanistan needs more support.

But after a meeting of the bank’s board, its director for fragile and conflict-affected countries, Alastair McKechnie, said there was a “huge issue” of the effectiveness of aid in Afghanistan. The bank says “little headway” has been made in the fight against corruption. It accepts that this is not easy when government authority is challenged by powerful figures.

It says progress in the reform of public administration has been modest and there needs to be clear priorities for achieving results in delivering services on the ground. And it says collecting more taxes is essential. This is blunt language. But the World Bank is issuing a reminder that everyone’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan. It also calls for better co-ordination among the donors.-SANA

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