ACCI

Eleven Private Sector Priorities for Reform Presented to the London Conference

Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and Harakat – (Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility Organization) Harakat presented the Private Sector Priorities for Reform to Afghan government and the international partners at the London Conference associated event on the Private Sector. The event took place on December 3, 2014.

The event was attended President Ghani, Mr. Zakhilwal, Senior Economic Adviser to President, Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development who leads DFID, senior officials from the government of Afghanistan and UK, international donors and by private sector representatives (both Afghan and international investors).

The private sector reform priorities that were presented are as follows:

(1) Improve traditional irrigation systems and promote sustainable modern systems.

(2) Advance the development of a national railway system for Afghanistan (review and address the key decisions and recommendations of the Afghanistan National Railway Plan and seek international support for its implementation).

(3) Develop ancillary infrastructure (road and electricity) around resource corridors to facilitate development and reliable transport of extracted minerals.

(4) Establish ‘one stop shops’ for public services with integrated electronic systems providing streamlined business administration services (registration, licensing, licensing renewal, tax, custom duty payments and other essential business administration requirements in Kabul and 7 commercial hubs).

(5) Lower the cost and increase the availability of financing by expanding existing credit guaranty and microfinance schemes and by making the contract enforcement and debt collection environment more attractive to lenders.

(6) Develop a strategy for industrial park which reflects comments and ideas from the private sector (including establishment of an independent office for industrial park with special authority).

(7) Urgently approve an electricity law, relevant sub-laws and guidelines that facilitate the immediate establishment of an independent electricity regulatory authority to implement policies that support private sector investment in the electricity sector.

(8) Establish a program to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment of TVET institutions for 200,000 students based on market needs.

(9) Protect investors and promote investment (improve contract enforcement, dispute resolution, solving insolvency).

(10) Develop a national policy and a legal and regulatory framework for public private partnerships.

(11) Establish an alternative transit route through Central Asia that would be implemented along with the proposed Central Asian Gas Pipeline project.

The discussions were positive. President Ghani concluded the event and underlined that: "We are getting government out of the business sector." In addition, he talked about building markets, functioning modern companies, skill strengthening, training for future needs of the country, price of housing, construction and transportation sectors.

The communiqué released at the end of the London Conference acknowledged the role of private sector and economic development:

18. The Participants acknowledged the critical role that the private sector will play in Afghanistan’s path to sustainability, and noted the Afghan Government’s commitment to improving the Doing Business Indicators, and its commitment to prioritize a stronger, more consistent regulatory framework enabling a stronger and more competitive business environment, as well as investment in infrastructure, agriculture and the extractive industries to help encourage private sector investment and more sustainable economic growth. This commitment includes putting in place the strongest possible available measures, based on international best practice, to counter the threat of conflict and corruption around the extractive industries. The Government of Afghanistan also committed to take specific action to increase levels of domestic and foreign private sector investment in Afghanistan to help create and sustain decent jobs, including for women and youth, and improve access to services and markets. Making progress on an inclusive peace and reconciliation process is critical to pave the way for a conducive environment for future investments in Afghanistan.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/383205/The-London-Conference-on-Afghanistan-Communique.pdf

ACCI and Harakat will work with the government and the international partners prior to the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) to be held in mid of 2015 to ensure that the reform priorities are addressed and to monitor progress on those reforms that will be part of the renewed Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF), which will be the main framework document between the unity government and the international partners.