Friday, 30 June 2017

Finance ministers of Afghanistan and Georgia interested in deepening cooperation in the field of transport

Finance Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Mr Eklil Hakimi, visited Georgia on 28-29 June to meet local authorities and discuss trade and economic issues with them. The first meeting has been held with the Finance Minister of Georgia, Mr Dimitry Kumsishvili. Hakimi had also meetings with other members of the Government of Georgia and local business representatives. Besides trade-economic relations between Georgia and Afghanistan, Mr Hakimi shown also interest in deepening cooperation in the field of transport and in those successful reforms that Georgia has been implementing in various directions. While meeting with representatives of the private sector, Afghan Minister has been introduced to Georgia’s agriculture sector and its opportunities.
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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Uzbekistan attempts to further enhance ties with Afghanistan

After the change of leadership in Uzbekistan, it has been widely acknowledged that the country’s new president, Shavkat Mirziyaev, is pursuing a more proactive and constructive regional diplomacy in Central Asia than his predecessor. Along with Mirziyaev’s attempts to further enhance ties with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as well as his efforts to improve ties with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the Uzbekistani government also significantly altered its approach toward another important neighbor: Afghanistan. Heralding the arrival of a new era in bilateral relations, Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov made an official visit to Afghanistan in January 2017, the first such visit to Kabul by a high-ranking official from Tashkent in almost two decades. During the visit, Kamilov said that his government would no longer look at Afghanistan solely through the prism of security threats, which was the predominant approach over the last 25 years. Instead, he said, Uzbekistan wanted to reshape relations by facilitating greater cross-border trade, humanitarian and cultural cooperation, as well as more active participation in implementing various mutually beneficial regional energy, infrastructure and transport projects. The creation of the position of special presidential envoy for Afghanistan was another indication that Uzbekistan wants to upgrade bilateral ties to a qualitatively new level. It has underlined Tashkent’s willingness to play a more active role in the international processes related to achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan. An important improvement in bilateral relations has been the activation of official contacts at the highest level. President Mirziyaev has been maintaining direct personal dialogue with his Afghan counterpart by making use of every opportunity to speak, including at international forums. As such, both leaders had a side meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) annual summit in Astana, in June this year, during which they discussed the execution of an agreed-upon “road map” for the development of comprehensive bilateral cooperation. Elyor Ganiyev, Uzbekistan’s minister of foreign trade, who attended the two leaders’ meeting in Astana, said that the two countries have all the reserves and capacities to increase mutual trade from around $500 million in 2016 to at least $1 billion by the end of 2017. He also affirmed that the two countries were preparing specific agreements to facilitate the trade and transit of goods. Uzbekistan’s Trading House was opened in Kabul in January 2017, and it will permanently host an exhibition of all industrial products made in Uzbekistan for the Afghan market. Currently, Uzbekistan is Afghanistan’s only neighbor with which it has a railway connection. Uzbekistan exports electricity, petroleum products, fertilizers, construction materials, agricultural machinery, ambulances, medicines and medical equipment, wheat, and eggs to Afghanistan. Moreover, it imports minerals, tropical fruit, carpets and other goods from Afghanistan. In another bold move, Uzbekistan sees great potential for itself in active participation in various regional energy, transport and infrastructure projects related to Afghanistan. During Mirziyaev’s recent working visit (his second in 2017) to Turkmenistan, in late May, Uzbekistan was invited by the host government to help in the implementation of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, which was readily accepted. Afghan officials also consider the implementation of the TAPI pipeline project as a priority for their country. According to Alisher Sultanov, the CEO of Uzbekneftegaz (Uzbekistan’s national oil and gas company), his firm has a particularly good chance to be chosen as the operator of the TAPI pipeline. Even though Sultanov acknowledged the existence of various regional challenges to implementing this ambitious and expensive project, he nevertheless expressed optimism and said that his company was up to the challenge. Some commentators have been quick to express disbelief that Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan’s cooperation on TAPI would have any real impact on the implementation of this long-delayed project; as such, they dismissed it as a meaningless exercise. However, if history is any guide, these two Central Asian neighbors faced similar skepticism in the past when they agreed to implement another ambitious project: The first line of the Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan–Kazakhstan–China (TUKC) natural gas pipeline was successfully launched in 2009, only a few years after the agreement was finalized. Currently, the TUKC pipeline has three lines, all of which were constructed with the participation of Uzbekneftegaz. The pipeline has already delivered more than 180 billion cubic meters of Central Asian gas to China. Realistically, the set of challenges for implementing the TAPI pipeline might be different from those faced by the TUKC. But from the technical side, Uzbekneftegaz has all the necessary experience and know-how to implement such a grandiose projects. Moreover, in Central Asian politics, such agreements, as perhaps opposed to some international practices, are not signed and announced for only propagandistic purposes; their implementation or lack of thereof usually carries reputational costs in interstate relations. Uzbekistan’s bold moves in Afghanistan are taking place at a time when the security situation might be worsening, with a resurgent Taliban and other terrorist groups loyal to the so-called Islamic State (IS) increasingly challenging the central government in Kabul. Militants are stepping up their insurgent activities especially in Afghanistan’s northern provinces, which border on Central Asian countries, including Uzbekistan. One can also see ominous signs that an escalation in the global rivalry between the United States and Russia might be again playing out in Afghanistan. The US government’s recent decision to send additional troops and military equipment to Afghanistan is a welcome development from Tashkent’s point of view, which could potentially help Afghan authorities roll back the growing insurgency in the country (USA Today). However, real peace and stability in Afghanistan will most likely remain as elusive as ever for years to come. Therefore, the long-term success of the Uzbekistani government’s reset in its relations with Afghanistan will depend on whether it will be able to continue to see opportunity rather than threat as far as Afghanistan is concerned - even if the security situation there takes a turn for the worse in the coming months.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Узбекистан планирует реализовать на территории Афганистана ряд инфраструктурных проектов

Узбекистан планирует реализовать на территории Афганистана ряд инфраструктурных проектов, таких как строительство железных и автомобильных дорог, а также высоковольтных линий электропередач, следует из проекта постановления президента Шавката Мирзиеева. Документом предусмотрено утверждение комплексной программы диверсификации внешнеторговых маршрутов перевозки грузов и их интеграции в международную инфраструктуру. В рамках предлагаемых мер намечается ряд инфраструктурных проектов на территории Афганистана: создание транспортного экономического коридора на северо-западе страны, формирование и реализация проекта строительства железной и автомобильной дорог, а также высоковольтной линии электропередач по маршруту Мазари-Шариф–Шиберган–Маймана–Герат. Для поддержки национальных экспортеров, повышение конкурентоспособности их продукции на зарубежных рынках прорабатываются вопросы получения тарифных преференций при транзитной перевозке основных экспортных грузов (хлопковое волокно, минеральные удобрения, строительные материалы и др.) железнодорожным транспортом по различным направлениям. В документе также упоминается проект строительства железной дороги Узбекистан–Кыргызстан–Китай с учетом интересов Республики Узбекистан. Для его формирования и реализации ожидается проведение заседаний трехсторонней рабочей группы. В соответствии с графиком разработки, постановление планируется ввести в действие в первой половине июля.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Road Project in Afghanistan: Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) Consulting Services for Design, Survey and Site Investigation

The Ministry of Public Works (MPW) of Afghanistan is implementing a number of highway projects that involve the design, rehabilitation and reconstruction of priority sections of the Nation's transport network. For this purpose, survey, site investigation and design, on behalf of the Employer are required to assist MPW's for the Ring Road Project from Qaisar to Laman in Afghanistan with the selected Consultant for the provision of comprehensive Consultancy Services for Survey, Site Investigation and Design of Laman to Dari Bum Section of the Ring Road in connection with 'Rehabilitation and Construction of Qaisar to Laman Ring Road Project in Afghanistan'.


Assignment Title: Consulting Services for Design, Survey and Site Investigation (Geotech) KM 110 to 192 with total lenght 82 KM (Laman-Dara-e-Bum Section of Ring Road in Badghais)
Duration of Assignment: 12 months
Implementing Agency: Ministry of Public Works of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Contract Type: Lump Sum


For more information visit the web site of Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA) at http://www.npa.gov.af/

В афганской столице стартовал проект по строительству линий метробусов

О планах запустить новый наземный транспорт рассказал исполняющий обязанности мэра Кабула Абдулла Хабибзай. Он отметил, что первая фаза проекта будет реализована в течение года.
Ожидается, что новая транспортная система обеспечит жителям Кабула удобство передвижения по городу.

  • Кроме того, Хабибзай сообщил о планах по строительству новых дорог и парков на территории афганской столицы.
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Sunday, 25 June 2017

After Germany and France, also Italy closes Visa Office in Afghanistan

Following the terrorist attack of May 31 that hit the diplomatic district of Kabul and due to the deterioration of security situation in the capital, the Visa Office of the Embassy of Italy to Afghanistan has been temporarily closed.
Consequently all scheduled appointments have been cancelled and no new appointments can be granted until further notice.
During the temporary suspension of the activities, according to the article 6.2 of the Regulation (EC) n. 810/2009 (Community Code on Visas), Afghan citizens may apply for visas at the Italian Embassies and Consulates in third countries.

A seguito dell’attentato terroristico avvenuto il 31 maggio 2017 nel quartiere diplomatico di Kabul e del progressivo aggravamento delle condizioni di sicurezza nella capitale, l’Ufficio Visti dell’Ambasciata d’Italia in Afghanistan è stato temporaneamente chiuso. Di conseguenza, tutti gli appuntamenti sono stati cancellati e non potranno esserne forniti altri fino a nuova comunicazione. Saranno ad ogni modo evase le pratiche di visto già acquisite. Durante la sospensione temporanea delle attività, ai sensi dell’articolo 6.2 del Regolamento (CE) n. 810/2009 (codice comunitario dei visti), i cittadini di nazionalità afghana potranno presentare domanda di visto di ingresso, sia di breve che di lungo periodo, presso le Ambasciate e i Consolati d'Italia nei Paesi terzi dove essi sono “legalmente presenti”.

>>> SOURCE

پیام رئیس جمهور غنی و خانم اول كشور به مناسبت فرا رسیدن عید سعید فطر

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Recommendations for the development of the Afghan capital Kabul

The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, held a meeting in the Presidential Palace to discuss the plan for development of Kabul city. Head of the independent directorate of capital zone development, Elham Hotaki, presented 15 recommendations for the development and economic growth of the capital to the meeting. Cleaning of Kabul river, construction of 100 schools and clinics, empowerment of women, preparation and management of water distribution, and coordination of efforts for the establishment of commercial market for the women in a bid to create jobs for over 100,000 people were some of the recommendations. The meeting was attended by CE Abdullah, cabinet members, presidential advisers, members of the independent directorate of the local governance, and representatives of donors supporting the Kabul program. Emphasizing on the need for creating jobs for the people, President Ghani said subsequent meetings would be held to discuss the creation of momentum to implement the development and economic growth plan in the city.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
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Friday, 23 June 2017

Первый шаг к достижению прозрачности в Афганистане во время выполнения строительных гос-контрактов

Инициатива по обеспечению прозрачности в строительном комплексе (COST) в Афганистане и министерства восстановления и развития села и общественных работ Афганистана подписали трехстороннее соглашение, согласно которому информация о строительных объектах будет доступна общественности. Соглашение входит в список реформ, которые Правительство национального единства ИРА должно провести в обмен на международную помощь. Одним из основных требований международных саммитов по Афганистану, в частности, прошедшего в Брюсселе в октябре 2016, являлась прозрачность расходования предоставленных средств афганским правительством.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Corruption-free Afghanistan is not a 'mission impossible'

Following security, corruption is the second major concern for Afghans. While Afghanistan has failed to comply with international demands in fight against corruption, President Ghani, decisively has taken a new approach; reform in public procurement.

Public procurement in Afghanistan is responsible for 50% of annual budget expenditure and 19% of the GDP. For a country that is highly dependent on foreign aid, abovementioned figures are critical. President Ghani after assuming power formed National Procurement Authority (NPA); a national and centralized body responsible for facilitating procurement procedures, formulating and analyzing procurement policies and monitor the implementation of the contracts in accordance with Afghanistan’s procurement law and set standards. Since its establishment in 2014, the government has been able to save almost $224 million which is equal to 3.5% of the national budget for 2017. NPA’s skillful, committed and educated team along with a robust leadership have played a major role in these achievements. NPA was declared the only corruption-free public organization by the president in October 2016 and the staff was appreciated accordingly.

Following Afghan government’s fight against corruption, a recent report by Transparency International ranks Afghanistan 8th in comparison to formerly 3rd in the list of most corrupt countries. This is mainly due to reforms in public procurement system and reshuffling the justice sector’s officials.

Establishing a democratic government highly depends on transparency and accountability in all levels of public organizations. In compliance to its promises, the government has disclosed many of public officials’ assets, passed the law of access to free information, ensured freedom of speech and has been supporting civil society. Fortunately, such actions led to Afghanistan’s membershipin Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), which is deemed a giant step towards institutionalizing democracy and good governance.The memberships carry many benefits and simultaneously several responsibilities. To remain a remember and to comply with conditions, Afghanistan would further apply Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS)that would lead to higher public confidence, attracting more foreign investments, efficient spending of public funds,more transparency and economic development. The impact in the long run will be significant in terms of economic independency and corruption-free institutions. To facilitate the process of implementation, however, establishing e-procurement practices is necessary.

International experiences have proved that e-procurement is an effective tool to establish transparency and expedite the procurement processes. Considering this fact, Afghanistan is studying the possibilities of implementing e-procurement practices. A recent e-readiness study revealed that the country is ready by 66% to apply e-procurement systems. Initial steps have been already taken as NPA is currently using a Contract Progress Monitoring System (CPMS) which allows online monitoring and evaluation of above the threshold procurement entities’ contracts in all public organizations. The degree to which it would cut corruption is notable particularly for a country that has been highly affected by corrupt procurement practices in all sectors. However, it is noteworthy that many challenges exist to achieve a comprehensive and functional e-procurement system; such as lack of capacity,expensive process and consistency and compliance, to name a few.

Although, reform in public procurement is seen as a major step,many other sectors require dramatic transformation to achieve a transparent Afghanistan. To accomplish this goal however, many obstacles exist that need to be tackled. Warlords and mafia’s influence in policy formulation is dramatic.Justice sector is corrupt leading to a lack of proper prosecution mechanism and an absence of rule of law are some examples.

Besides reform in public procurement, future strategies should address a range of inter-connected factors in a systematic fight against corruption. Reform in justice sector, establishing rule of law, an increase in the role of civil society, cultivating the culture of accountability and creating a workforce with high ethical standards are some of the areas that should be strategically addressed by the government. International community’s support and assistance remains a major factor in overcoming the obstacles and winning the battle against corruption. Finally, political will exists and moving towards a corruption-free Afghanistan is not a “mission impossible”.

>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on EURASIA DIARY:
How is the Afghan government curbing corruption through public procurement reform?
Author: Ahmad Shariq
EurasiaDiary 

103rd meeting of Afghanistan National Procurement Commission

At the 103rd meeting of National Procurement Commission (NPC), held on 19 June 2017 at Presidential Palace and presided by H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, were approved the following contracts-projects:
  • The asphalt and construction projects of roads in 4th, 11th, and 15th districts of Kabul belong to Kabul Municipality;
  • To build and reconstruction of Laqi, Shahrwan and Seyah Aab canals in Takhar province, belong to Ministry of Energy & Water;
  • The recruitment of a consultancy firm for Trans-Hindukush connecting road project, belong to Ministry of Public Works;
  • The maintenance service project of Hamid Karzai international airport;
  • The maintenance service project of radar system in Balkh province, belong to Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority;
  • The 191 items of vehicle components belong to Ministry of Interior;
  • Procurement of IT equipment for Capital Region Independent Development Authority (CRIDA);
  • The public awareness project of ministry of counter narcotics.


    The National Procurement Commission also discussed on classification of companies into different capacity categories, providing the opportunity for small and medium enterprise’s further engagement in procurement, especially giving priority and preference to the businesses run by women, and also paving the ground for domestic investment in construction sector and beneficial ownership of firms.


    In this 103rd meeting, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of NUG, Ministers of Finance, Economy and Justice, senior advisor to the President in infrastructure affairs, officials of National Procurement Authority and Wolesi Jirga`s observers from finance and budget commission also participated.
    >>> SOURCE

    Monday, 19 June 2017

    Italy contributes with EUR 2.5 million to fight polio in Afghanistan

    The Italian Cooperation has contributed with 2.5 million euros to the polio eradication program in Afghanistan. This contribution is going to the United Nations specialized agencies, WHO and UNICEF, that are collaborating with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and other international partners for the implementation of the “National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication 2016-2017” aiming at interrupting the disease transmission in Afghanistan. Polio eradication is one of the most important public healthcare priorities at the global level and it is internationally supported by GPEI (Global Polio Eradication Initiative). The goal of polio eradication has never been closer: in 2016 only 36 cases were registered in 3 countries worldwide. Afghanistan, with 13 cases reported along with Pakistan and Nigeria, is one of them. And it is in Afghanistan that the program has made significant progress in 2016, thanks to the strengthening of the operational structures, the increasing of the vaccination coverage in the provinces and the improvement of the epidemiological surveillance. Thanks to these interventions, there are only 3 cases registered in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2017. The Italian contribution is essentially aimed at strengthening the vaccination campaign. On May 15, 2017, the Minister of Public Health launched a "National Day of Vaccination" with the goal of reaching 9.5 million children. Sixty-seven thousands volunteers took part in the campaign, carrying out door-to-door vaccinations in remote areas. At the same time, the routine vaccination activities continued, with about 52,000 operators mobilized in border areas with Pakistan where the movement of IDP (Internally Displaced People) and refugees poses a serious risk of spreading the disease. The Italian contribution supports also the community awareness campaigns in hard to reach areas where for security and socio-cultural reasons the immunization coverage remains low.

    Friday, 16 June 2017

    Afghanistan has received USD 180 million in new incentives from World Bank for making progress in the fight against corruption

    Afghanistan has received USD 180 million in new incentives from World Bank for the implementation of key reforms and making progress in the fight (if 😒) against corruption. The Ministry of Finance spokesman Ajmal Abdul Rahimzai told reporters in Kabul that the Ministry of Finance has received USD 189 million from Word Bank due to the efforts of the government in the fight against corruption and bringing essential reform on 5 key sections. Rahimzai further added that of USD 900 million dollars allocated by the World Bank for incentives, the Ministry of Finance has received 550$ million dollars so far. He said the USD 900 million incentives are committed for three year 2016 to 2018. According to Rahimzai, the Afghan government is expecting to receive the remaining amount in coming three years. This comes as the United Nations in a report said late in April that the Afghan authorities have made heady in their fight against corruption although it stated that enormous changes still remains. Titled ‘Afghanistan’s Fight Against Corruption: The Other Battlefield’, the report states that key component of Afghanistan’s fight against corruption is the dedicated Anti-Corruption Justice Centre (ACJC), with dedicated police and prosecution units. The other key component dedicated to Afghanistan’s fight against corruption included a new national primary and appeals court, established by Presidential Decree to operate with jurisdiction over the broad range of corruption offences specified in the current penal code, as well as money laundering offences, destruction or selling of cultural and historical relics, crimes against internal and external security, illegal extraction of mines, and land usurpation.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    World Bank funds greenhouses in central Afghanistan

    Eight greenhouses have been recently built in different areas of Tirinkot, the provincial capital of central Uruzgan province.
    Funded by the World Bank, the greenhouses are built on 2,850 square meters of land at a total cost of 29 million Afghanis. Provincial director of agriculture and livestock Eng. Zalmai Aloko said each greenhouse would be capable of producing 68 tons of cucumber, 56 tons of tomato, 40 tons of lettuce and 36 tons of eggplant every year. He added that work on the construction of 28 more greenhouses was underway to further help improve agricultural production in the province. Currently, 38 greenhouses are functional in Uruzgan.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Thursday, 15 June 2017

    World Bank announced more than USD 500 million Afghanistan financing

    The World Bank on June 13 announced a financing package for Afghanistan of more than USD 500 million to help the country through a difficult phase in its struggle to end poverty and to signal a long-term commitment to the country’s people.
    The package will help Afghanistan with refugees, expand private-sector opportunities for the poor, boost the development of five cities, expand electrification, improve food security, and build rural roads. The financing includes grants from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, as well as contributions from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF – managed by the World Bank) and from other partners, including Denmark, Germany and Japan.
    “This approval of new grants confirms the World Bank Group’s strong commitment to the people of Afghanistan in helping them overcome the daunting development challenges facing the country,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. “Despite steady and encouraging progress by the government in several areas -- including institutional reforms, revenue generation, provision of basic services in health, education, and rural access sectors -- much more needs to be done to improve economic growth and prosperity.”
    The new funding, approved by the Board of Executive Directors, aims to support efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to stimulate growth and ensure service delivery during a time of uncertainty when risks to the economy are significant. The international troop withdrawal, begun in 2011, coupled with political uncertainties, have resulted in a slowdown of economic growth, while government budget pressures are increasing as security threats mount and drive people from their homes.

    The six grants of USD 520,000,000 consist of:
    • USD 205.45 million in additional financing from IDA, donors and the ARTF to the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project to support communities with internally displaced persons and returnees from Pakistan;
    • USD 100 million from IDA to the Inclusive Growth Development Policy Grant to support reforms that expand access to economic opportunities for the vulnerable and promote private sector development;
    • USD 20 million from IDA to the Urban Development Support Project to strengthen urban policy-making in national agencies, and strengthen management and service delivery in five provincial capital cities;
    • USD 60 million from IDA to the Herat Electrification Project to provide access to electricity to households, institutions and businesses in selected areas of Herat Province;
    • USD 29.45 million from IDA and donors to the Afghanistan Strategic Grain Reserve Project to finance establishing strategic wheat reserves and improve the efficiency of grain storage management;
    The Board also approved restructuring the Afghanistan Rural Access Project, which aims to benefit rural communities through access to all-season roads. The approval made it possible for ARTF to provide $105 million in additional financing to the project.

    Tuesday, 13 June 2017

    Americans came to Afghanistan under the ploy of fighting against terrorism, however terrorism strengthened by US presence

    The US mission has failed in the counter narcotics combat besides the fight against terrorism. One of the main goals of US military mission in Afghanistan was to fight against opium; however, it was not only eliminated in its presence, but its graph has been hiking each year. This year, poppy is claimed to have been cultivated in many areas in the northern provinces besides the south of the country, and thus, Afghanistan has produced an amount of opium which is unparalleled over the past decade. 


    The war in Afghanistan is not a civil war. It's a drug war, it's a terrorist war and it's also a state to state undeclared war. - President Ashraf Ghani on Twitter

    Local authorities in southern Helmand province and northern provinces of Afghanistan acknowledge that this year far more poppy has been cultivated than any time in the past, terming insecurity the main factor of its increase. Helmand tribal leaders reveal poppies have been cultivated on 80% of fields in the province this year. Hajji Sharif, a tribal elder in Nad Ali district, said opium has been planted all over Helmand, except the 1st district of the provincial capital. "Only the surrounding areas of the province were free of narcotics, whereas it has been cultivated in all the other districts", Sharif revealed, maintaining that this much poppy has never been cultivated in the past. Qazi Ismail Shariatyar, a civil activist, revealed that poppy has been cultivated on half of those lands which are in government's control in addition to those that were not controlled by the government forces. Shariatyar, who is residing in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand province, said both government forces and Taliban militants received their share of narcotics money under the name of Usher (10 percent Islamic tax on corps) in a number of areas. Omar Zwak, the spokesman for Helmand governor, admits that much more narcotics has been cultivated in Helmand this year compared to the past, terming the deterioration of security as its reason. Similar to war, the cultivation of opium has no longer been limited only to southern provinces, but northern provinces have also not been vacant of this phenomenon. A government source from northern Balkh province admitted to The Heart of Asia that an unequaled level of poppy has been cultivated in Chamtal and some other districts of that province; however, the local authorities could not eliminate it. By the same token, residents of Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province reveal that this year poppy has been cultivated on most of the agricultural land. Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told The Heart of Asia that the counter opium police cleared thousands of hectares land from narcotics each year, and they did so this year as well.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Afghanistan welcomes first-ever women's magazine with features on fashion

    The cover of Gellara features famed model and singer
    A new women's magazine is turning the page on Afghan cultural traditions, with features on fashion, make-up and even adverts about birth control. The first edition of Gellara, a fashion magazine espousing what conservative Afghans call hardcore feminism, has just been published by an all-volunteer team of women. It is inspired by Western magazines such as Vogue and Allure, and offers models with uncovered hair and articles that deal with pregnancy, fashion and birth-control tips. "It's time for Afghanistan to introduce a positive, colourful image of women from this country to the world," Fatana Hassanzada, the editor-in-chief of Gallera, told Al Jazeera. "One of our aims is to show women they have the right to choose the style of dress that they like. "No woman would choose a burqa that covers them from head to toe. They don't even allow a woman to walk properly." However, many Afghans - particularly men - say the magazine poses dangers. "It's not good for Muslims.Their heads are uncovered and they wear revealing, anti-Islamic clothes," says Ghulam, a street vendor."It's not for our society. We don't accept such European style of dress here." In a land where the consequences for crossing cultural barriers can be severe, Gellara's staff are taking precautions against potential attacks. One thing the magazine does not publish is its address. "From the day the magazine was launched, we've been lucky that there hasn't been an incident where we've been physically threatened," Hassanzada told Al Jazeera. "But the social media statements directed against me and my co-workers are sometimes harsh and radical."
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE and watch video 

    Monday, 12 June 2017

    Afghanistan National Procurement Commission (NPC) approved 11 contracts worth approximately 3.5 billion Afs

    Procurement Transparency, Empowering Economy!
    During the 102 session of National Procurement Commission (NPC) that was held at the Presidential Palace on the 11th day of June 2017 and presided by the President of Afghanistan Dr. Ashraf Ghani, out of 26 procurement contracts and issues which were included in the agenda, 11 contracts with the total value of roughly 3.5 billion AFN were approved, that included the followings:

    The contract for transit of 138 thousand metric tons of wheat from India;

    The recruitment of a consultancy firm for scheme and design of Dar-ul-Amaan area`s administrative complex master plan;

    The Contract modification for planning, scheme and design project of Kabul city;

    The Contract modification for road construction of Piruzi town;

    The road project of Mehtarlaam Baba to BaadPakh district of Laghman province with 20 kilometers long, which is approved conditionally;

    The construction project of road starting from km 41 to km 51 from Bangi to Ishkamish of Takhar province, which is approved conditionally;

    The Mazar-e-Sharif roads’ construction (time extension and overtime work);

    The procurement of smart electronic systems for customs of ministry of finance;

    The procurement of cooking wood needed by the National Army Corps and its military components;

    And the contract for procurement of foodstuff for Ariana-Afghan Airlines.

    The NPC also approved the proposal for termination of the contract of providing two types of bread for hostels and cadre hospitals of ministry of higher education, due to lack of adherence to contract terms and conditions by the contractor, and providing low quality bread for the students. NPC decided that necessary measures and actions should be taken for penalization, reprisal, and debarment of the company.

    On the other hand, NPC returned the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock’s consultancy services project of rehabilitation and development, because of presenting detailed plan by UN-FAO. 

    The NPC perused the proposal of the civil aviation authority for de-monopolization of airports oil procurement, and issued the specific guidance in this respect. NPC also perused the report of Paghmaan hill castle’s evaluation team and besides appreciating their efforts, issued guidance regarding their suggestions.

    >>> Source: National Procurement Authority (NPA)'s page on Facebook

    Sunday, 11 June 2017

    Afghan Government slammed for spending less development budget

    Members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Afghan Parliament) summoned the finance and economy ministers as well as the National Procurement Authority officials to discuss government’s development projects and the uplift budget spending issues in the first sixth months of this fiscal year. The finance minister Eklil Hakimi said government has spent 15 percent of its development budget in the first six months of the current fiscal year. “According to the information which I received today (Saturday), at least 15.5 percent of the (development) budget has been spent (by government institutions). This is not acceptable for me, too,” said Hakimi. The National Procurement Authority director Yama Yari meanwhile labeled lack of capacity in procurement, insecurity and corruption as main reasons for insufficient budget spending in government institutions. “Lack of capacity in procurement and negligence of (a number of) ministries in implementation of their projects are the main problems and we as an observer institution have been tired of this situation,” he said. “Corruption is another problem besides insecurity which delays the implementation and evaluation of government’s projects,” said Abdul Satar Murad, the minister of economy. Meanwhile, the Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the answers provided by the government officials “were not convincing”. “The answers which we heard from the honorable officials could convince the parliamentarians,” Ibrahimi said. A number of MPs said the National Procurement Authority is an obstacle for the implementation of development projects. But, the procurement authority officials said they reject the projects which are in violation of government laws.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Saturday, 10 June 2017

    China to cooperate with Afghanistan in executing a hydropower project on the Kabul-Kunar River

    China will cooperate with Afghanistan in reviving the Sher Khan Bandar-Herat railway track and executing a hydropower project on the Kabul-Kunar River. To the effect, Afghan envoy to China, Janan Musazai, and a Chinese construction company today signed two cooperative memoranda of understanding (MoUs), a statement from the Presidential Palace said. The development comes after a meeting between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Kazakhstan. Under the MoUs, the Chinese company will finance and conduct feasibility studies and prepare a plan for execution of the Sher Khan Bandar-Herat railway over the next one year, the Presidential Palace said. The Chinese company will also perform feasibility study and develop an implementation plan for an electricity project on the Kabul-Kunar river in the next six months.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Over 60% of Afghan mid-level taxpayers evade taxes

    On average, 15,000 mid-level taxpayers deny paying an estimated 17 billion afghanis amount in taxes annually in Afghanistan. An official at the Ministry of finance (MoF) said some individuals in power or being powerful refused to pay taxes. They included parliament members and those having close links with government officials and tribal elders, he said. Producers or business companies with investment or products value ranging between five hundred million to one billion afghanis are considered middle level taxpayers. The criterion is different for other provinces. NGOs, wedding halls, restaurants, hotels, tourist agencies, schools and others are in the category of middle level taxpayers provided their investment could meet the defined standards.
    41 billion afg tax money is evaded
    According to Amena Ahmadi, head of middle-level taxpayer department at the MoF, of total 23,000 middle level taxpayers, 9,955 paid 10 million afg in 2015, while in 2016 of the total 25,500 middle level taxpayers, 13,000 paid 13 billion afs. She added during the first five months of the ongoing year, 7,000 middle level taxpayers of the total 25,500 paid 5.4 billion afs in tax. The statistics show since fiscal year 2015 until May 2017, among every 10 middle level taxpayers, six evade taxes. They also show during the past two and a half years, 15,000 middle level taxpayers on average had escaped taxes. Keeping in view the average level of companies who pay taxes, it is estimated that the unpaid taxes in the past two and a half years payable by 15,000 companies could be over 41 billion afs. The middle level tax department refused to provide the list of these 15,000 tax evading companies to Pajhwok. The department officials said work on preparing the list was underway and a copy of the list would provide to Pajhwok when completed. They, however, provided a list of 14 health institutes, 19 schools and higher educational institutes and 19 hotels in Kabul, which do not pay taxes.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Friday, 9 June 2017

    ‘Hello’ from Afghanistan

    Credit Mateen Qarizada

    Hello! Do you hear me?

    My colors are fading, my people are dying

    I am crying for peace

    I want the war to cease

    My children are begging on the streets, suffering in the torching heat

    They are the hope of the future- a future I can’t give

    The war has torn me apart, I can’t ever forgive

    Hello! Do you hear me?

    My women are stoned and burned on the streets

    I am a victim of “religion”-a religion I don’t believe

    Is He watching me from the skies?

    Is there anyone hearing my cries?

    My men are beheaded, as if they don’t have a soul

    Young and old are marching, asking why this violence?

    We see them in pain, we see them suffering; yet there is silence

    Hello! Do you hear me?

    I am the land of beauty, embossed in magnificent mountains

    My hills are glorious; my green lands are vivid

    The world speaks of my hunger, poverty, war; I’m livid

    I am the splendor of the region, the heart of the Silk Road

    They call it the “war on terror”; I am crippled by nerves

    They envy my lapis, my copper, my trillion dollar reserves

    Hello! Do you hear me?

    Give me the chance to bloom; give me the chance to shine

    I believe in my youth; oh! they are full of vigor

    Their devotion, their passion I need. It is their power I must savor

    My hospitality is unmatched. My flavorful food, my colorful clothes are my mark

    I will keep my wings open, my music loud; no matter how much you keep me in the dark.

    Hello! Do you hear me?

    I am Afghanistan.


    China willing to support the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in achieving peace and political reconciliation

    China has voiced its willingness to help Afghanistan speed up national and political reconciliation, peace and stability, Afghan foreign ministry said yesterday.
    China supported Afghanistan in conducting peaceful reconstruction and advancing reconciliation. The ministry's special envoy for Afghan affairs Deng Xijun attended the Kabul Process conference yesterday. China stood ready to continue to play a constructive role for an early realization of national and political reconciliation as well as peace, stability and development in Afghanistan, a statement from the ministry said. The Kabul Process conference opened in Kabul to discuss security and peace. Representatives of several neighboring and other important countries, including China, participated. The conference asked militants groups to agree on a ceasefire and start peace talks with the Afghan government immediately. A statement from the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on Wednesday quoted the meeting’s participants as agreeing to a united approach against those refusing to join the political process and continue to provide the ground for foreign terrorists to operate in Afghanistan. In addition, the statement said, the participants supported all Afghan security forces’ efforts to defend the people of Afghanistan and combat all terrorist threats‎ that affected the international community.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Thursday, 8 June 2017

    مشاعره گل سرخ مزار شریف - Mushahira Gul-e Surkh Mazar-e Sharif

    Turkmenistan and Afghanistan discussed electricity projects of common interest

    Afghanistan’s Energy and Water Minister Ali Ahmad Osmani discussed the latest condition of electricity projects with his Turkmen counterpart on the sideline of Energy Charter meeting, which was held in Ashgabat.  According to a statement from the Afghan Energy and Water Ministry, the ongoing electricity projects discussed included increasing the voltage of electricity to Herat province via the Sarhadabad route of Turkmenistan, distribution of electricity to parts of Badghis and Jawzjan provinces, electricity import on Sheberghan-Pul-e-Khumri route and the electricity supply project of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan (TAP) via Herat-Kandahar route. In addition, Turkmenistan promised to finish the construction work of the 110KV electricity project in Badghis province by the end of 2017. The two parties finalized the import of electricity to Badghis province and also conferred on six development projects coming from Turkmenistan. The Energy Charter Foruman, an inter-governmental organization, is the governing and decision-making body for the Energy Charter process, and was established by the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Monday, 5 June 2017

    Afghanistan Public Procurement

    Public Procurement is frequently considered to be a back-office function; however, after 1990s, it was marked as one of strategic economic functions of the government and today it has become even more important from a strategic perspective because shortfalls in public procurement can affect the entire government development programs, for a big chunk of public money is expended through public procurement and in return services are rendered to the public. Therefore, ineffective and inefficient procurement would result in waste of public money, ineffective service delivery and public disenfranchisement.  That’s why today, procurement can act as a vital tool for implementation of broader socio-economic policies of the government.

    #transparency  #accountability  #fairness

    In Afghanistan, Public Procurement was established in 2006 when the procurement law was adopted. The law later on was amended in the year 2009 and 2014 through legislative decrees and was under review of the Wolesi Jirga.
    Now, with the intentions of the National Unity Government for reform of the systems including that of the public procurement, the procurement law has been amended after vigorous literature study of previous and existing laws, internationally accepted and successful models like the United Nation Commissions on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL Model Law, an analysis of the procurement environment and public sector environment of the country and after extensive consultations with stakeholders, development partners and legal experts.
    The amended law was enacted through legislative decree 75 and was gazette consequently officially published in Gazette (No. 1186) before it got approved by the parliament on January 13, 2016. Based on the provisions of the constitution, the procurement law was reviewed at Mishrano Jirga (the Upper House) and afterwards was passed by the joint committee of both houses. Finally, the new law was endorsed via decree number 90 of the President and was gazetted  
    Conciseness, preciseness, institutional system development, pro-active tools for economic development, transparency, mutual accountability, fairness and competition are what has been strengthened in the new law.
    >>> For more information, please visit the website of the National Procurement Authority of Afghanistan.

    Sunday, 4 June 2017

    Efforts underway to boost olive production in eastern Afghanistan

    In the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar it is expected olive production over 1,200 tons this year. 

    Ghulam Hazrat Abdul Rahimzai, head of the Nangarhar Canal, said given the largest harvest of olive from the fields, the olive production is estimated to surpass 1,200 tons this year. He added that efforts were underway to boost olive production in the province next year.

    According to Rahimzai, more than 500,000 olive plants have been prepared to be planted in the Canal in the upcoming year. He further added that the government has managed to recover 4,600 acres of land from the land grabbers belonging to the Canal Directorate.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Афганский энергохолдинг 'Брешна' планирует увеличить закупки электроэнергии из Таджикистана на 100 МВт

    В настоящее время Афганистан закупает из Таджикистана около 300 МВт электроэнергии, однако этого количества недостаточно, чтобы покрыть потребности страны, особенно в зимнее время, когда ГЭС Таджикистана вырабатывают меньше электричества.

    Saturday, 3 June 2017

    Impressive improvements in the health sector: World Bank Afghanistan

    The World Bank yesterday 2 June 2017 announced the results of a review of progress achieved in the health sector in Afghanistan from 2002-2017.
    Conducted by World Bank experts and an independent group from the University of Toronto, the review found that many key health indicators had improved more rapidly in Afghanistan than in most other countries that had started at a similar level of development. The under-5 mortality rate dropped 60 percent from 137 per 1,000 live births in 2002 to 55 in 2016. Births attended by skilled health personnel increased to 58 percent from 14.3 percent over the same period. Announcing these results at a Presidential Summit on Health Care in Kabul, Dr. Timothy Evans, Senior Director for Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank said, “The progress made in Afghanistan is impressive, especially given the serious security situation the country has faced over the last decade. Afghanistan has set a new benchmark against which to judge other countries affected by conflict, and even more so low income countries that are not facing conflict.” These improvements are consistent with those observed in the quality of care and equity in access to services, and the large increase in the number of health facilities. The number of functioning health facilities increased five-fold over while the proportion of facilities with female staff increased from 22 percent to 87 percent. The review noted that the government’s contracting of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to provide health services has led to improvements in coverage and quality, even in provinces that had high levels of conflict, suggesting substantial resilience of the health care system.
    Addressing the Summit after listening to the results, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani emphasized that “modality of service delivery in partnership with NGOs that has significant progress on many fronts and proved remarkably resilient in the face of operational and security-related challenges. With support from development partners, we have come a long way in improving the health conditions of millions of Afghans.” He noted the importance of communicating these results in the health sector not only within Afghan society, but also, more importantly, to a wider audience around the globe. While progress has been significant, there remains important health challenges. The review pointed out some of the remaining challenges the country faces. The use of family planning remains low, resulting in high fertility rates that could prevent Afghanistan from achieving its economic development goals. Malnutrition remains a serious problem that is exacerbated by declining levels of exclusive breast feeding and poor infant and child feeding practices. There is some controversy about the trend and level of the maternal mortality ratio (MMR), but there is widespread agreement that it remains unacceptably high. This may reflect the fact there are still parts of the country that are under-served. The quality of services in many public hospitals has stagnated at low levels. Dr. Evans noted, “Afghanistan faces some difficult health challenges, but this is not the time for timidity. Rather it is the time to boldly build on the successes that have been achieved and invest sufficient resources, both domestic and international, to overcome these challenges.”
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Friday, 2 June 2017

    The attack in Kabul calls for strong, immediate and extraordinary actions against corruption!

    Foreign and local investors might leave Afghanistan if there are no concrete actions against corrupt government officials forming the Fifth Column of group of terrorists and hungry-criminals, smugglers and garbage of some foreign intelligence agencies.
    "The war in Afghanistan is not a civil war. It's a drug war, it's a terrorist war and it's also a state to state undeclared war." - President Ashraf Ghani on Twitter

    Thursday, 1 June 2017

    UN condemns attack in Kabul, underscores need to protect civilians

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres said those behind the attack must be held accountable and brought to justice.

    http://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/un-condemns-attack-underscores-need-protect-civilians

    Condemning the attack in Kabul on Wednesday, United Nations officials, including the Secretary-General and his Special Representative for Afghanistan as well as members of the Security Council underscored that all parties to the conflict are obliged, under international law, to ensure that civilians are protected from any harm.
    “Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and can never be justified,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement.
    “Those responsible for today’s attack must be brought to justice,” he added, underlining the need to reinforce the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
    The UN chief also expressed his sympathies to the families of the victims, wished a speedy recovery to those injured, and reaffirmed the solidarity of the UN with the people and government of Afghanistan.
    The UN Security Council, also issued a press statement late Wednesday night and stressed that those responsible for the bombing should be held accountable, and called on all UN Member States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.
    Reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, members of the Security Council “reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”
    Hundreds of people – mostly civilians – were been killed and injured when a suicide attacker detonated a truck bomb in Wazir Akhbar Khan area, which also houses a number of diplomatic missions.
    The bombing, which happened in rush hour traffic Wednesday morning, killed over 80 people and wounded more than 450.
    In addition to the loss of lives and injuries, the explosion also resulted in considerable damage to the immediate and surrounding areas, with some embassies being seriously affected.
    Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also underscored that the attack was a serious violation of humanitarian law.
    He said in a statement issued by UNAMA that “beyond the immeasurable human suffering caused by today’s attack, the deliberate detonation of a massive truck bomb in a civilian area, particularly during the peaceful month of Ramadan, is morally reprehensible and an outrage.”
    “There can be no exceptions: the use of explosive weapons in civilian-populated areas must stop,” Yamamoto added.
    >>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    Note: ISIS claimed the attack, and this group of fool hungry-criminals has been engineered and developed by the US. So the question is: "Can António Guterres bring to Justice those who decides everything in Afghanistan for and on behalf of the United Nations?

    The first-ever Italian having registered an individual company in Afghanistan

    The first-ever Italian having registered an individual company in Afghanistan
    Special thanks to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan (ACCI). IvoTONIUT