Donors pledge $16b. to Afghanistan development

TOKYO — Major donors pledged yesterday to give Afghanistan $16 billion in development aid through 2015 as they try to prevent it from sliding back into chaos when foreign troops leave, but demanded reforms to fight widespread corruption.

Donor fatigue and war weariness have taken their toll on how long the global community is willing to support Afghanistan and there are concerns about security following the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014 if financial backing is not secured.

“Afghanistan’s security cannot only be measured by the absence of war,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an international donors’ conference in Tokyo.

“It has to be measured by whether people have jobs and economic opportunity, whether they believe their government is serving their needs, whether political reconciliation proceeds and succeeds.”

The roughly $4 billion in annual aid pledged at the meeting, attended by 80 countries and international organisations, fell short of the $6 billion a year the Afghan central bank has said will be needed to foster economic growth over the next decade.

Clinton and other donors stressed the importance of Afghanistan – one of the most corrupt nations in the world – taking aggressive action to fight graft and promote reforms.

“We have agreed that we need a different kind of long-term economic partnership, one built on Afghan progress in meeting its goals, in fighting corruption, in carrying out reform, and providing good governance,” Clinton said.

According to “mutual accountability” provisions in the final conference documents, as much as 20 per cent of the aid could ultimately depend on Afghanistan meeting benchmarks on fighting corruption and other good governance measures.

However, a Japanese official said that it was up to each donor whether to make its aid contingent on such reforms and that the benchmarks could vary from country to country.

World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the pressure was on the Afghan government to deliver reforms and ensure fair elections in 2014 in order to secure aid beyond the amount pledged in Tokyo. (Reuters)

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