President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani attended and delivered his keynote address at the 4th EU Annual Anti-Corruption Conference “Corruption in recess, Peace in progress” held at Presidential Palace, Tuesday morning.
The President was joined by the First Lady, EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, ambassadors and high-rank Government officials.
Taking a moment of silence in honor of the martyrs of democracy who lost their lives in the recent terrorist attacks in the country, the President said, “we will not waver in moving forward with our four political tasks; elections, peace, and reforms, especially in implementing our anti-corruption strategy and poverty eradication.”
He added that these people speak for all of Afghanistan in terms of their commitment to democracy, to rule of law, to a secure environment where they will be able to elect their leaders without fear in a fair, free and inclusive elections.
The President thanked the European Union and all international partners for their dialogue, support and staying power.
“Our efforts with Central Asian and other regional partners are showing the immense potential of Afghanistan as a roundabout and a corridor. We are witnessing regional connectivity as a palpable reality rather than a dream,” said President Ghani.
Alluding to Afghanistan’s conditions in 2014, the President said that the Government of National Unity had to tackle four simultaneous transitions namely political, security, economic and the pervasive corruption as its four dimensional challenges.
He remarked that the best men and women are accepting high office at enormous personal cost and sacrifice stressing that democratic change, peace and self-reliance are achievable goals within the decade of transformation and that Afghan businesses are investing and exceeding their investments.
President Ghani further added, “Our peace offer, regional partnerships and democratic commitments and reform efforts are redefining the rules of the game to align them with the Constitution as in 2014 nobody could have claimed that formal and informal rules of the game are aligned with the Constitution.”
He highlighted that private sector dialogue and partnership is intensifying where the Government has held six High Economic Council meetings as well as sessions on poverty eradiation during the recent month.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also reminded of municipal reforms in the country and said that eight reformist mayors have been recognized and mayor of Kandahar was given a special presidential award recognition.
The president added that based on the analysis completed in eight provinces, the Government will move significantly to reform local governance. He thanked women for undertaking their role, particularly in justice and judicial areas.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani iterated that the Government intends to prioritize ministries as an effort to achieve the goals set for curbing corruption.
He further remarked on challenges faced with the Government for pursuing reforms.
The President stressed that the Government of National Unity has taken anti-corruption serious by illustrating that almost half of the cabinet ministers are under the age of 40 and speaking about reforms in the Ministry of Interior, merit-based recruitment of commercial attaches and prosecution of the corrupt.
He praised the Ministry of Finance for further enrichment of the national budget underscoring that there is no hidden holes in the budget and that the ministry has done the work of three years in six months.
The President insisted that a free, fair, inclusive and democratic elections requires a proper analytical framework to deal with all dimensions of corruption and interference referring to the people’s strong determination for achieving their democratic rights even by sacrificing their lives.
He emphasized that the Government has taken steps in education sector improvement, building 6000 school building across the country through the Ministry of Rural Development, investment on big dams, reforms in the ministries of Labor and Public Works.
President Ghani concluded that Afghanistan should at least have eight billion dollars in domestic revenue by 2024.
Pierre Mayaudon said that the conference will mainly focus on anti-corruption and improvement of development programs. He underscored that in absence of a strong commitment for fighting against corruption, development programs and active participation of the private sector cannot be enhanced.
John Sopko thanked the National Unity Government for its commitment to tackle corruption, underscoring that elimination of corruption is a significant way for establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.