Deputy Minister of Policy Naheed Sarabi was part of a delegation of government officials that visited Washington, DC late last month to share progress on the Afghan government’s reform agenda and further strengthen areas of partnership between the US and Afghanistan.
In a range of public events, private roundtable discussions, and high-level meetings with members of the US Congress and Trump administration, the Deputy Minister spoke on fiscal, economic and development reforms laid out in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF), and shared updates on key national priority programs such as the Citizen’s Charter and the Women’s Economic Empowerment program.
In bilateral meetings with the US Department of Commerce and USAID, the Deputy Minister explored further avenues for collaboration between the US and Afghanistan for private sector investment and service delivery programs.
At a public panel at Brookings Institute, Deputy Minister Sarabi laid out the vision of the ANPDF, discussed fiscal reforms underway at the Ministry of Finance, and their combined importance to realizing the government’s vision for a self-reliant Afghanistan: “What we did in the first year of reforms was to work with colleagues at the Ministry of Finance to ensure prioritization was built into the budget process. For the first time we had a very transparent and credible budget, so that whatever we budgeted for in 2018 would actually have resources in the ministries and our government would be capable of delivering.” She also spoke of the 2017 Open Budget Index report in which Afghanistan was ranked second-most transparent budget in the region next to Nepal, stating, “This was a big achievement for the government.”
The Deputy Minister also emphasized the government’s flagship National Priority Program, the Citizen’s Charter: “Our plan is, 10 years from now, for every village in Afghanistan to have access to a school, education, healthcare, basic energy and basic infrastructure, with rural areas connected to urban areas, so we have a self-sufficient village community who can be the hub for a prosperous Afghanistan in the coming years.” Though substantial progress has been made, Deputy Minister Sarabi pointed out that the biggest challenge has been prioritizing when needs are immense and resources limited, and also implementing programs under complex circumstances.
The trip also included a day of meetings on Capitol Hill with members of US Congress. Deputy Minister Sarabi also spoke to Fox News about the country’s economic development progress.