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Kandahar-Spin Boldak highway project nearing completion 

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2021)
The new and improved Kandahar to Spin Boldak Road project is nearing completion and will be a welcome development for motorists using this popular route to the border crossing with Pakistan.
 
According to the ministry of public works, construction to widen the road, making it a double lane highway, cost one billion Afghanis and covers a distance of 40km. 
 
This has been a key development project for government and it will connect the southwestern provinces with the border post in Chaman area. 
 
This route plays an important role in the trade and transit sector and also connects remote areas to the key artery. 
 
The project was broken down into two phases – the first of which extends 39.6km and has already been opened. 
 
This latest development coincides with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement on Monday that he had directed authorities to set up border markets along the country’s borders with Afghanistan and Iran to boost employment opportunities and help curb smuggling.
 
The decision to establish border markets was taken in September last year with the objective to provide jobs and promote peace.
 
“The establishment of these markets is critical for the prosperity of the population living in border areas of Balochistan and merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Khan said.

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Ghani tells ECO Summit peace is critical to region’s future

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(Last Updated On: March 4, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani said at the 14th ECO Summit held virtually on Thursday that Afghanistan is poised to serve as a roundabout between central, east, south and west Asia and a platform of international and regional cooperation.

Ghani said internationally managed and monitored elections to elect the next president is critical in ensuring a balance between constitutional continuity and change.

Ghani said Pakistan has an especially significant role to play in supporting a lasting peace process, for it is the country most likely to suffer from the adverse consequences of a failed peace process.

Addressing the virtual gathering, Ghani said: “We, the people and government of Afghanistan and our international partners, have a true sense of urgency to make and build peace. Your support for a comprehensive ceasefire to accelerate the negotiations in Doha is essential.”

He said for forty-two years, “we have been denied the fundamental right to peace. It is time to stop the violence that has turned our beautiful country into a killing field.”

The 14th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) was chaired this year by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The theme of the Summit “Regional Economic Cooperation in the Aftermath of COVID-19” saw leaders of regional countries share their perspectives on COVID-19 challenges.

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Ghani scraps NTA salary scale system

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(Last Updated On: March 3, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday instructed the Ministry of Finance to stop the National Technical Assistance (NTA) salary scale system, effective at the start of the new solar year, the Presidential Palace (ARG) said.

According to ARG, Ghani also said that the NTA positions will be changed to contract posts and a salary increase will be given to low-ranking employees.

“The NTA process will continue until the new year and in the next leadership session of the government, the mechanism (of the change) will be made,” said Fatima Morchal, deputy spokeswoman for the president.

Currently 24,000 government employees are employed on the NTA salary scale system and affects those earning between 38,000 and 250,000 AFN a month.

Members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) said government should share their plans with them.

“Government should complete its investigation and send their plan to parliament,” said Sayed Azim Keberzani, a member of the Wolesi Jirga.

This comes after MPs recently refused to approve the budget for the new fiscal on the grounds that government workers needed a pay increase.

As a result, government approved a pay rise, and stated that it would increase salaries by 2,000 AFN from the new solar year

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Efforts underway to safeguard Afghan women’s property rights

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(Last Updated On: March 2, 2021)

Through the Afghanistan Land Administration Project (ALASP) the government of Afghanistan has started distributing property Occupancy Certificates for land owners with priority for women.

World Bank reported that while Afghanistan’s laws give women equal rights to own land and property, ignorance, weak law enforcement, and social norms have combined to deprive Afghan women of their property rights.

According to the article, experts estimate that less than five percent of land ownership documents in Afghanistan include the name of a female owner.

Given the social, economic, and cultural importance of property ownership, equitable access to land is key to empowering Afghan women.

In the article it stated that excluding women from owning land or property has led to their marginalization in political and economic spheres and limited their decision-making roles at home and in communities.

As such, equal access to land ownership is key to empowering Afghan women, the article stated.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Land (MUDL) however has reportedly been improving land administration and promoting better access to registration services, especially for women.

Supported by a number of agencies, and financed by the World Bank, this project has so far resulted in MUDL having issued 34,370 Occupancy Certificates (OC) and more than half include a woman’s name.

These initiatives have helped many Afghan women acquire certificates that prove their rightful ownership and protect them from eviction, encroachment, or dispute. The legal documents also guarantee they can pass on their property to their children and shield them from homelessness, the World Bank article stated.

The article also stated that consistent with the new legal framework, co-titling for occupants of state land is mandatory, and husbands are now required to include their wives’ names on the certificates.

In addition, there is also now dedicated help desks in eight provinces to support women seeking an Occupation Certificate, encourage female enrollment, and facilitate co-registration.

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