The pullout of Western forces from Afghanistan in 2014 could likely come with an exodus of aid. But on Thurday, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim promised the war-torn country of the bank’s lasting support.
Kim met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, other ministers and business leaders March 14 in Kabul for talks on Afghanistan’s future and business prospects. This was his first-ever visit to the country as World Bank president.
Raouf Zia, the World Bank’s external affairs officer in Afghanistan, told Devex that the goal of Kim’s visit was to reassure the Afghan authorities of the bank’s long-term, strong commitment in supporting the country’s development during the transition period in 2014 and beyond.
He said that once the World Bank’s interim strategy note for 2012-2014 expires, the bank’s officials will convene with Afghan government leaders to devise another plan to drive Afghanistan’s progress and independence in the coming years.
Highlighting the bank’s continuous support for Afghanistan, Kim said the agency will back programs identified by the Afghan government as crucial to meeting its development goals such as in the areas of education, health, irrigation, energy, infrastructure and rural development.
“We are also focused on improving the government’s capacity to deliver services to its citizens, and on fostering a business climate that unleashes the job-creating potential of the private sector,” Kim added.
Zia said the bank has allocated $493 million for the program under the interim strategy note to promote the legitimacy and capacity of institutions, equitable delivery of services, as well as inclusive growth and jobs.
This amount comes from International Development Association grants worth about $150 million per year, as well as from the world’s biggest single-country trust fund buoyed by 33 bilateral donors — the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund — slated to supply up to $800 million annually in grants.
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