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India to build Shahtoot dam in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2020)

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar announced on Tuesday at the Geneva Conference 2020 that his country will build a new dam to provide Kabul residents with safe drinking water.

Addressing delegates virtually, Jaishankar said the Shahtoot dam will help supply Kabul residents with water.

“I am happy to announce today an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shahtoot dam which will provide safe drinking water to two million Kabul residents.

He also said India will launch phase four of a high impact community development program in Afghanistan, which includes around 150 projects worth $80 million dollars.

He stated India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan but said his country calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

“We also believe that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.”

A feasibility study for the dam was reportedly finalized in 2012 and the estimated cost will be around $236 million.

This dam would also allow for irrigation systems to cover 4,000 hectares of land in the Charasiab and Khairabad districts of Kabul province.

Once complete, officials said the dam will hold 146 million cubic meters of potable water for two million people in Kabul and irrigation water for over 4,000 hectares of land.

India has played a major role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime and has invested over $2 billion in various reconstruction and infrastructure projects.

In 2016, Ghani and Indian Prime Minister inaugurated the Indian-funded “Friendship Dam” in Heart Province, which can also irrigate over 80,000 hectares of land and provide electricity to thousands of homes in the western Afghan province of Herat.

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Cash-strapped government puts new projects on hold

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has informed all government departments they need to cut back on budget spend, including that on planned development projects.

In an official notice to all government institutions, MoF has ordered them to stop projects where contracts have recently been signed, and which employ contract workers.

All planned development projects have also been put on hold.

The MoF said that due to the increase in spend for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), the increase in health spend and a drop in government income, all government departments need to cut expenditure.

“After the assessment of the development and general budgets by the cabinet, changes have been brought to the ministries and all government budgets because of the increase in ANDSF and health spending. Contracts from the… budget should be halted or suspended,” read the notice.

The MoF said that the government has lost $33 million in customs revenue since the Taliban seized five border crossings in the past month, amid rising violence in the country.

“Sher Khan port in Kunduz, Spin Boldak in Kandahar, Islam Qala in Herat, Abu Nasr Farahi in Farah and Torghundi in Herat have been captured by Taliban in the past month,“said Rafi Tabi, spokesman for the MoF.

Analysts have said the government should consider other steps to cut back on budget spend.

“In this situation, we can’t blame government, but it (government) should consider other options to prevent confusing the public,” said Sayed Massoud, a university lecturer.

This comes after the projected revenue generation for Afghanistan was expected to be 216 billion AFN ($2.7 billion) for the current solar year.

The total 452.6 billion AFN budget for this year did however carry a 37 billion AFN deficit – which government was to provide 20 billion AFN from internal resources and 17 billion AFN was pledged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to make up the difference.

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Afghan carpet industry facing major challenges: ACCI

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(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said on Sunday that the Afghan carpet industry is facing numerous challenges despite the foreign aid that has been injected into the industry.

The ACCI said that the lack of a dedicated industrial park and a suitable place to produce carpets are a key challenge that they face.

Carpet makers also said that the drop in exports of Afghan carpets is a major problem.

Abdul Jabar Safi, head of the craftsmen association said despite millions of dollars having been spent and funding from USAID being received no dedicated industrial parks have been established in Andkhoy and Jalalabad – both carpet making hubs.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry meanwhile said efforts are being made to resume the traditional craft of carpet making in order to preserve the Afghan carpet industry’s uniqueness.

The ministry said that they have assisted carpet producers recently.

“It (new carpet industry) undermines the credibility of Afghan carpets. One good point of the Afghan carpet sector is that it provides 100,000 jobs for people especially for women,” said Fawad Ahmadi, spokesman for the ministry.

Analysts say that the carpet production industry will come to an end if government does not address the carpet producers’ challenges.

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US, Afghanistan, Pakistan Uzbekistan form platform for regional cooperation

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(Last Updated On: July 16, 2021)

The United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to form a new diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity, the US State Department said on Friday.

“The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing,” the Department said in a statement.

“Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties,” the statement read.

The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus, the US said.

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