ADB pledges $1.3 billion for Afghanistan development

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Singapore, Jun 12 (UNI) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today said it has pledged up to 1.3 billion dollars as new assistance for Afghanistan at a donor conference in Paris this week.

Speaking in Paris, ADB Vice President Liqun Jin said Afghanistan has made remarkable progress over the past seven years, but that the country remained the poorest in the Asia-Pacific region and renewed efforts were needed.

Mr Jin said progress toward several aspects of the Government's reform agenda are still pending. He called for 'more resolve to firmly address widespread and institutionalised corruption.' Mr Jin said the privatisation of state-owned enterprises was slow, while the government had not yet instituted a system to maintain newly built infrastructure, such as roads, electrical transmission lines or irrigation canals.

He said there was still not a practical action plan to address the production and trafficking of opium.

Still, Mr Jin expressed ADB's 'unwavering commitment to support Afghanistan's further reconstruction and development.' ''Over the coming five years, we will consider providing up to 1.3 billion dollars in assistance to Afghanistan, to finance roads, electricity and irrigation facilities,'' Mr Jin said.

To date, the Manila-based ADB has approved more than one billion dollars in project activities in Afghanistan in full accordance with its earlier pledges at donor conferences in Tokyo, Berlin and London.

UNI XC PD GC1938

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