Afghanistan

World Bank President commits ongoing support to Afghanistan

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Urges donors not to lose sight of this important post-crisis example
Press Release No: 2003/238/SAR

WASHINGTON, February 27, 2003 - World Bank President James Wolfensohn has assured Afghanistan's leadership that his institution remains committed to the country's reconstruction and has urged donors to recognize that Afghanistan is indeed a test case of post-crisis reconstruction.

"As the eyes of the world focus elsewhere, we should not forget that the experience of Afghanistan is a proving ground for whether the international community can stay the course beside a fragile country as it builds itself up from the aftermath of conflict," said Wolfensohn following a meeting today with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai. "Afghanistan is a country that, under President Karzai, is building an experienced and honest government team. They deserve our support."

President Karzai is currently appealing for new support for the country's budget for the forthcoming fiscal year beginning March 21. He has asked that $600 million be channeled through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.

"As Afghanistan moves into its next phase of nation building, it is essential that the government has a predictable budget instrument firmly in its hands and which it can align to its development priorities," said Wolfensohn. "I trust the international community understands the importance of Kabul building its authority as a reliable government and it can only do that with predictable budgeting. For this objective, the Trust Fund is a very important instrument."

Wolfensohn said the long-term recovery of Afghanistan would be driven by the private sector but for this impetus to kick in, the country needed to provide security, the rule of law and a viable financial sector.

Next month the World Bank takes a new loan for Afghanistan to its board for the rebuilding of a vital road link out of Kabul to the border with Tajikistan. The Bank will lend $108 million for this project. Currently, the Bank has four ongoing projects in Afghanistan worth $100m in grant funding. Over 22 percent has already been disbursed.

Contacts:

In Washington:

Dale Lautenbach (202) 473-3405
E-mail: dlautenbach@worldbank.org

In Kabul:

Abdul Raouf Zia (93) 70-27-9184
E-mail: azia@worldbank.org