Statement at Afghanistan: The London Conference

Speech | 28 January 2010

Speech by Juan Miranda, Director General of ADB's Central and West Asia Department, London, United Kingdom

Excellencies, Distinguished Co-Chairs, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Government has a revised strategic platform for development and now wants us to anchor our assistance on it. We think this is a good idea. Minister Zakhilwal highlighted the list of needs, as well as the budgetary requirements. These needs are great. And the time to sort them out is now.

Allow me to make three observations:

First, ADB likes the strategic stance but we encourage deeper and faster reform. There is scope to sell more public assets, to reduce subsidies, to increase revenues, to set mechanisms to improve the maintenance and repair of recent investments, and to raise the effectiveness of institutions and the people who run them.

Second, we welcome the call for more assistance to go through the budget. 100% of ours has done so since 2002, and we have no complaints so far.

Third, on investment priorities and aid coordination, our message is for the international agencies to sharpen their strategic focus, move into areas where we are strong, get out of others where we are not, establish long term partnerships with one another and the Government, and be much less bureaucratic.

Our own strategic stance is aligned with this message. We focus on building transport networks, energy security and efficiency, irrigation facilities and the private sector. Flagship projects include the rehabilitation of regional airports; the construction of a railway line from Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif (construction got underway last week); the completion of the "ring road" — we have 200 km to go before this important project is completed — and the Kandahar — Spin Boldak road; improved supply of electricity to Kabul and other towns; the modernization of irrigation infrastructure; the financing of Afghanistan's largest mobile telecommunications operator and first private, commercial bank; and soon three new projects with DFID in Helmand, including road, power and water projects. These are the areas where we've committed $2 billion since 2002 and where we will do another $1 billion over the next few years. These are visible and meaningful investments. They help people and businesses and create jobs. These are also areas which require much more finance than we have available. We therefore invite others to join us to expand their coverage and speed up their implementation. I should add that although these investments are national in nature, most have huge regional content.

Allow me to conclude by emphasizing our unwavering commitment to Afghanistan's reconstruction and development.

Thank you.