Private Sector Priorities for Reform Conference

Representatives from the Afghan private sector came together at the “Private Sector Priorities for Reform Conference” in Kabul to identify a short list of practical, measurable, and realistic reforms that would remove constraints to doing business in Afghanistan, helping to spur economic growth. The recommendations from this Conference will be presented at a private sector roundtable in London at the end of 2014 as part of the London Conference on Afghanistan, which will be co-hosted by the Afghan and UK governments.

The conference, which was organized by Harakat and ACCI, in collaboration with DFID, IFC/World Bank, German Cooperation/GIZ/KfW, the United States Embassy Kabul, and with strong encouragement from the European Union Delegation in Kabul, was a day-long event that took place at the Intercontinental Hotel.

The conference’s discussion was based on reforms already proposed by the participants from the private sector at the Afghanistan National Business Forum organized by Harakat and ACCI on February 27, 2014. The conference worked hard to identify from this list ten high priority reforms for immediate implementation.

Participants discussed and identified up to two high priority reforms for enhancing growth in each of the six sectors considered of most value to Afghanistan’s future growth: agriculture, agribusiness, manufacturing, services, construction and the extractive industries.

The conference was followed by a focus on crosscutting topics: increasing access to finance, access to electricity, and access to industrial land; streamlining and simplifying business-related administration procedures (including transparency and anticorruption); enhancing investor protection (including contract enforcement, dispute resolution and solving insolvency); developing a more highly skilled workforce; streamlining trade and transit processes and improving the position of women in business.

A report will now be produced summarizing discussion and setting out the agreed and prioritized recommendations. This report will then be used as the basis for engagement with the new National Unity Government on removing the constraints to private investment in Afghanistan, and will be tabled at the London Conference.

The event also identified a large number of other important reforms which will be put to the new government in Kabul in the hope that their implementation will feature in the medium-term reform program of the government.

Key attendees at the conference were Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, Senior Economic Advisor to the President and Acting Minister of Finance, Mr. Haji Mohammad Younus Momand, Vice-Chairman of ACCI, Mr. Atiqullah Nusrat, CEO of ACCI, Mr. Naseem Akbar, CEO of HARAKAT, a number of ACCI’s board members, 300 representatives of the private sector and representatives from international organizations.

Mr. Momand while expressing his congratulation to organizers of the important conference, noted: “with the extension of the presidential round-off election, we also had a negative impact on the economy and our economic activities stagnated. But a peaceful power transition to the National Unity Government, brought a hopefulness and confidence to have a dynamic economy. "

He also said that today we have economic elites of the country, the private sector and international experts here in the conference to identify economic development priorities, and make a short list 10 to 12 emergency demands to present at of London Conference.

Mr. Akbar highlighted importance of organizing need of the conference to review and reform the investment and business environment in Afghanistan. "This conference are held in conditions which private sector still face massive challenges and barriers since last decades, despite have had great achievements.” He said

Mr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, Senior Economic Advisor to the President and Acting Finance Minister underlined commitments of the National Unity Government to reform economic policies. “

"National unity government’s promises to people are coming into force. We are committed grow our economy, create jobs, enhance people's live style and provide better governance services, strength private sector and the make favorable business environment in the country.” He said

He also mentioned that new government has created Senior Economic Advisory in Presidential Office with authority on strategy formulation and implementation and also monitoring National Economic Strategy as well as Senior National Security Advisory does in security matters.

To find out photos of the conference, please click here.