President Ashraf Ghani shared his vision for peace and progress towards self-reliance and economic growth of Afghanistan with the participants at the fourth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on Tuesday.
“Internally, we are launching a national dialogue across levels and functions of government around the idea of forging our transformation between now and the end of the decade of transformation in 2024,” Ghani said.
“International and regional consensus on the End-state of a sovereign, democratic, United Afghanistan, at peace within and with the world and capable of preserving and expanding the gains of the past 19 years… provide a foundation for securing our shared interests and realization of shared values.”
SOM 2020 concluded on Tuesday, after two days of constructive discussions between the Afghanistan government and international partners on the serious challenges faced by the country, the opportunities for development and peace, and the government’s vision, plan and strategy for next five years up to 2025.
The meeting, held at the Presidential Char Chinar Palace in Kabul, was attended by senior officials from more than 40 countries and international organizations, ministers and officials from the Afghan government, as well as civil society and private sector representatives.
It was co-chaired by the Acting Minister of Finance Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Special Envoy of Finland to the 2020 Afghanistan Conference Janne Taalas, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons.
The Ministry of Finance presented the draft Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF II) for 2021-2025, outlining the government’s strategy and plans for the next five years.
The plan is organized around three pillars of market-building, state-building and peace-building, and underpinned by the assumption that combined they will contribute to nation-building.
It focuses on key areas such as peace, inclusive economic growth -especially through emphasis on agriculture, extractives, urban cities and regional connectivity. In addition, the plan covers measures for responding to COVID-19, addressing corruption, the empowerment of women and girls, good governance, as well as rule of law and justice.
The Finance Ministry also presented a progress report on the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF).
“Since the last Senior Officials Meeting in 2017, Afghanistan has changed a lot and Afghans have come a long way, thanks to our people’s resilience, our government leadership, and our partners’ support,” Acting Minister of Finance Arghandiwal said.
“Our budget execution and domestic revenue mobilization rates have never been higher. More and more women have joined the Afghan government, and together we have created an important momentum in a complex political and security environment. However, it’s our collective responsibility to preserve as well as build on our accomplishments.”
International participants congratulated the Afghan government for producing a solid draft ANPDF II plan, especially welcoming the overarching conceptual framework on government policies, initiatives and programmes, as well as work to address COVID-19.
They also called for inclusion of challenges along with achievements in all sectors and exclusive focus on implementation and delivery going forward. Issues such as gender and women’s empowerment, anti-corruption, governance and the rule of law should be further strengthened in the plan.
“With the upcoming peace talks setting a shift in the development landscape, the Government and development partners must learn from past experiences, clearly identify the challenges going forward and ensure that we are working well together to maximize the opportunity that a more peaceful Afghanistan provides to its people,” said Lyons, the UN representative.
The SOM represents a milestone on the road to the quadrennial ministerial pledging conference, slated to take place in Geneva in November this year.
“Afghanistan is at an important juncture. The 2020 Afghanistan Conference presents a valuable opportunity for the Afghan Government and the international community to commit to common objectives for the future. There is a real opportunity for a more peaceful Afghanistan, which would have a very beneficial impact on development. It is imperative that this opportunity for peace is not lost,” said Finland’s Special Envoy Taalas.
On anti-corruption efforts
President Ghani said there was national outrage against corruption and a demand for accountability and sufficient capacity for accountability and rule of law.
He said that the security organizations and the active engagement of the media, the Ulema and civil society organizations have created the enabling conditions to have a comprehensive strategy to make measureable and sustained progress against corruption.
The president also added, “We are determined to complete all the remaining benchmarks of our current anti-corruption strategy and to enforce the decisions of the Attorney General on those found guilty by the end of October.”
He invited all bilateral and multilateral partners to join in the anti-corruption efforts by “identifying key drivers of corruption and bad governance” through a mutual accountability framework based on UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
“Dealing explicitly with “special treatment” granted to some individuals and organizations will be essential. Even more essential will be to make anticorruption an integral component of the political agreement with the Taliban,” the president said.