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MoF, WB sign 3 grant agreements worth $691m to improve Afghanistan’s economy, healthcare

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Finance Minister, Eklil Hakimi signing agreements with Shubham Chaudhuri, the WB country director for Afghanistan Finance Minister, Eklil Hakimi signing agreements with Shubham Chaudhuri, the WB country director for Afghanistan
 KABUL: Eklil Hakimi, Minister of Finance and Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan, signed three grant agreements worth $691million to help Afghanistan revitalize its economy and improve access to quality healthcare. 
The new financing, which was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on March 28, 2018 aims to help Afghanistan increase access to quality healthcare, modernize state-owned banks, and expand regional telecommunication connectivity, e-government services and create enabling environment for private sector investment.
“Improving the quality of health services, strengthening the banking infrastructure and digitizing government systems will enhance our ability to deliver better and quality services to our people.”said  Eklil Hakimi, Finance Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. ”This contribution demonstrates the continued commitment and support of international community helping the government of Afghanistan implement priority reforms for sustainable development.”
The financing package includes grants of $ 231 million provided by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, as well as $425 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), and $35 million from the Global Financing Facility (GFF), both managed by the World Bank.
“Afghanistan is implementing an ambitious reform program in a context of strong budget pressures imposed by low domestic revenue, though improving, massive security spending and enormous development needs,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. ”In this challenging environment, we remain committed to helping the Government of Afghanistan further improve service delivery to the Afghan people. For example, the new health project will improve health and nutrition services for the entire population of the country in all 34 provinces.”
The total support of $691million consists of three grants:
·         $600 million to the Afghanistan Sehatmandi (Health) Project to increase the utilization and quality of health, nutrition, and family planning services across Afghanistan. IDA will provide $140 million, while ARTF is expected to provide an additional $425 million, supplemented by a $35 million grant from GFF. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Public Health;
·         $51 million from IDA to the Afghanistan Digital CASA 1 Project to increase access to affordable internet, attract private investors to the sector, and improve the Government’s capacity to deliver digital government services, by supporting a regionally integrated digital infrastructure and creating enabling environment. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology will be the implementing agency; and
·         $40 million from IDA to the Modernizing Afghan State Owned Banks Project that aims to strengthen corporate governance and enhance operational efficiency of state owned banks. The project, to be implemented by the Ministry of Finance, will contribute to the modernization, transparency, and efficiency of the three Afghan state-owned banks: New Kabul Bank, Bank Millie Afghan and Pashtany Bank, and will modernize their IT infrastructure and develop sustainable business models to support inclusive growth.
The signing ceremony was also attended by Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health,  Shahzad Aryobee, Minister of Communications and Information Technology and  Ethel Sennhauser, acting Vice President of World Bank for South Asia Region were present,