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22 January 2002

Transcript: Security Is Top Afghan Need, UN official says

(UNDP, World Bank, ADB announce preliminary needs report) (5530)
Establishing basic security for the Afghan people is the top priority
of initial international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, says
U.N. Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown.
At a January 21 Tokyo press conference announcing completion of a
preliminary needs assessment of the country, Malloch Brown said
helping Afghanistan meet the costs of government was the next
priority. An interim fund established by the World Bank, the UNDP and
Asian Development Bank (ADB) will begin paying the salaries of
Afghanistan's civil servants January 22, he said.
During the press conference World Bank President James Wolfensohn said
the European Union (EU) has pledged $500 million in Afghan aid for the
next year and Japan $500 million over 2-1/2 years. He said the Bank's
pledge will be between $550 million and $570 million over 2-1/2 years.
The first $50-$70 million will be grants, and $500 million will be
no-interest loans, he said.
Wolfensohn said Afghanistan's immediate needs are for neighborhood
policing, de-mining and disarmament.
Reconstruction at all stages should be led by Afghan men and women,
ADB President Tadeo Chino said at the press conference. He said that
ADB's investment priorities are agriculture, infrastructure and
restoring education.
Wolfensohn said that only 38 percent of Afghanistan's boys and 3
percent of the girls are now in school.
Mallech Brown said that during the international conference on
reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan, which opened January 21 in
Tokyo, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai stressed the importance of
anti-corruption policies in government.
Following is a transcript of the press conference:
(begin transcript)
Joint Press Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan
Tokyo, Japan, January 21, 2002
Caroline Anstey, World Bank: Hello, thank you so much for waiting. I
apologize for the delay. Let me without further adieu introduce the
representatives of the three major institutions that worked together
on the needs assessment, Jim Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank,
Tadao Chino, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and, on
the left, Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP). They are joined on the panel by a number
of experts who worked on the needs assessment: Phillipe Dongier of the
World Bank, Yoshihiro Iwasaki of the ADB, and Sultan Aziz of the UNDP.
So, I will call on the three heads of institutions to make some
remarks and then we will throw to questions. Mr. Chino.
Chino: It gives me great pleasure to meet the press at this very
important occasion where people from all over the world are gathered
to discuss ways to help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
This morning, we presented our Preliminary Needs Assessment for
Afghanistan's Recovery and Reconstruction. This needs assessment was a
collaborative undertaking by ADB, UNDP, and the World Bank.
Building on this coordinated effort, we will conduct a more detailed
and comprehensive needs assessment after this conference. Sector teams
will visit Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan to conduct site visits
and participate in more detailed consultations with the Afghanistan
Interim Authority, a wide range of Afghanistan civil society and
nongovernmental organizations [NGOs], international assistance
agencies, and other stakeholders. This comprehensive needs assessment
is due to be completed by the end of April.
ADB is honored to play a crucial role in this important undertaking.
We have waited for the opportunity to resume operations in
Afghanistan, which is one of the ADB's founding members since 1966. I
believe it is our responsibility to help the Afghan people realize
their full potential for development.
Now, I would like to briefly highlight the four components of a
development framework, outlined in the Preliminary Needs Assessment,
that will guide the recovery and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
First, we believe that the reconstruction process should be led by
Afghan men and women in all stages, from planning to implementation.
This participatory approach is essential to ensure the necessary
ownership of and commitment to the rehabilitation process. In
particular, women have long suffered from social exclusion. As we have
found in other post-conflict countries, women will undoubtedly make
valuable contributions to the reconstruction effort and the
sustainable social development.
Second, appropriate policy and institutional frameworks must be in
place at both the national and local levels to support investments in
rehabilitation and reconstruction. In particular, effective
reconstruction is impossible without good governance. Transparency,
participation, accountability, and the rule of law provide the basis
for good governance.
Third, substantial institutional support is needed for local
communities and emerging public institutions. This type of support
will involve sustainable and substantial training and capacity
building, and is an area where we will need the experience and
expertise of bilateral agencies as well as NGOs and community-based
organizations.
Fourth, it is essential that investments in rehabilitation and
reconstruction promote human entitlements and social inclusion. In the
context of Afghanistan, it is particularly important to emphasize
support for and the protection of vulnerable groups, such as women and
children, returning refugees, internally displaced people, and the
disabled, by providing basic needs and employment opportunities.
Given these four components, I will now briefly focus on ADB's
investment priorities. We believe that agriculture, infrastructure and
social sectors are crucial for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
ADB's immediate focus will be on the rehabilitation of irrigation
systems and roads that can make a major contribution to rebuilding the
national economy while creating local community employment. In the
social sector, all services are in a state of collapse, and our first
priority will be given to the restoration of basic education including
non-formal education.
Funding requirements to support the recovery and reconstruction of
Afghanistan are enormous. ADB is fully committed to doing all it can
to secure necessary resources. Based on our preliminary assessment,
ADB is considering assistance in the order of $500 million over two
and a half years. Such assistance will be provided in the form of
highly concessional loans from ADB's lending window called the Asian
Development Fund and grant assistance.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize how pleased we are that the
day draws near when we can once again work together with the Afghan
people for the county's development. Thank you.
Anstey: Thank you, Mr. Chino.  Jim Wolfensohn, please.
Wolfensohn: I have not a lot to add to what Mr. Chino said about the
report itself, just a couple of comments on this morning. I think that
we underlined to the Afghan authorities that the important next step
is the consultation with that group so that the Afghan authorities can
in fact be in control of the plan and we can get the priorities
established that they feel are necessary.
There appears to be a general agreement on the priority areas:
capacity building, governance, education, health, infrastructure, and
the relocation of those that are currently either refugees or
dislocated in the country. This morning we heard of the paramount
importance of security and also the critical importance of de-mining
before we can get to the restoration of activities inside the country.
At this morning's meeting there was a lot of emphasis put on the
crucial need to have the immediate financial needs taken care of,
including salaries and the immediate fast-producing projects, and
while it is too early to indicate final numbers, from this morning, it
does appear that we are well in sight of the short-term goals.
What is important, I think, for all of us to understand is that early
cash is critical -- early cash is probably critical in terms of peace
and the establishment of peace -- and directing that cash to the issue
of poverty is really central. This is a people that need hope, and the
only way we can do that is working through the Afghan authority to
produce projects and support that will give them hope. For all of us I
think in this group, we very much recognize that the poverty issue is
the issue of peace and we are dedicated to try and deal with it.
Anstey: Thank you.  Mark Malloch Brown.
Malloch Brown: Thank you, Caroline. Let me first, just on behalf of
all of us, thank our colleagues, Phillipe Dongier, Sultan Aziz, and
Paul Dicky of ADB, who is not on the platform, for writing this
document. I know that for you journalists a deadline numbered in weeks
rather than days seems a huge luxury, but actually assembling this
needs assessment in the time period that the team had, and behind the
three team leaders was a group of 60 people from three organizations
who were working on this, is extraordinary. I think they could not get
a higher vote of confidence than the fact that the numbers they have
laid out, after this very rushed period of work, were the basis on
which governments pledged today. And, as Jim has just indicated, they
have passed out top of class because it looks as though we will have
met the first year needs and be doing very well on the medium and
longer term numbers. It is up I think to the co-chairs to make the
announcement on that in due course, and there are many more
governments that will be pledging this afternoon, but I think it is a
great endorsement of the work they did.
Second, however, what was also very clear, and what we had always said
about this document, was that it was the beginning of a process -- not
the end of one -- and that it could rough out the basic
sector-by-sector costs, but we would then need to come back to this
with much more detailed follow-up work with the Interim Authority and
with the other donors that are interested in participating in the
different sectors. I think the second very positive important lesson
of today was the way the Interim Authority and Chairman Karzai really
stepped up to the plate to take ownership of this and said they wanted
to put together a comprehensive approach in Kabul to follow up and
really make sure that everything that was done going forward reflected
their priorities and their leadership of the process.
Now, throughout this, going forward we are going to face this constant
tension between speed -- the need to really demonstrate quickly a
peace dividend that we are meeting the needs of people with some real
results quickly, which show them that their new government is working
for them -- versus the need for reflection, debate and real ownership
of the priorities by Afghans themselves because, after all, this is a
government which has not yet been in power a month, and so things are
happening at lightening speed. But, I think what the document does is
identify some first priorities that we have to got to move on at once,
of which the first, as we heard echoed by everybody this morning, is
security, security, security: the need for policing in the
neighborhoods, the need to move on de-mining, the need to create the
situation in which refugees can come home through disarmament and the
establishment of basic security for people; and second, meeting the
cost of government. It would be a perverse outcome if we built roads
and put a UN, World Bank, American or Japanese flag on them, built
schools, but we had not given the resources to the new central
government for it to be able to demonstrate to the people of
Afghanistan that it was the source of benefits and welfare and good
things in their life. It is 20 years since they have had a central
government that did those kinds of things for them; and as half of
Afghans are under 20 it means that half the country cannot remember a
government that served them and was not just a source of violence and
confusion in their lives. So, resourcing the government has emerged as
a high priority for us and one we are pressing to make sure happens.
That brings me momentarily to the Interim Fund. This is a fund that
UNDP has been running to make sure that salaries are paid in this
first start-up phase. And I am very glad to tell those of you who do
not know that the first salaries arrived at the central bank in Kabul
on Saturday, which will allow the Interim Authority, a month after it
took power, on Tuesday, January 22, to pay the salaries of the civil
servants of Afghanistan after a period of six months in which people
have not been paid. So, I think it is a real demonstration of the
donors and international community's support to making this government
succeed.
Beyond that, you have got the documents in front of you. You see the
importance, the emphasis on what we might call "schools, fields, and
jobs": the need to get kids in school by the time of the school year
in March, a similar deadline for getting seeds out so that we can
really move ahead and try and break this drought-cum crop failure with
a better agricultural season, and the need behind all this to get the
economy going and shift the political economy from where the most
important economic asset you can have is a gun to one where the tools
of peace from ploughs to computers are what people value and see as
the source of their well-being and welfare going forward. Let me stop
there. Thank you very much.
Anstey: Thank you. Mark. Let's throw open to questions. We are
preparing a transcript so it would be helpful if you could announce
your name and media organization. Yes, the gentlemen in the back, yes
sir. There should be a microphone coming to you.
ITAR TASS: Yes, I have a question to Mr. James Wolfensohn of the World
Bank. In what form do you think Russia can play a role in the
reconstruction of Afghanistan?
Wolfensohn: Well, they know the country very well, and they have
obviously up to now played a significant role in terms of the last
phase of relationships. It would be my hope that they could use their
experience now to turn to reconstruction. And, of course, if they are
prepared to make a financial contribution we would be delighted.
Anstey: Thank you.  Yes, the women on the left.
Rebecca Mac Kinnon, CNN: Chairman Karzai made it very clear that he is
committed to being an anti-corruption leader, and that he is very much
aware of the need for effective governance if the aid is to get to the
people who really need it. Yet there are a lot of reports coming from
the regions around Afghanistan of aid that is already going to
Afghanistan getting redirected by warlords, stolen, people being
killed for grain, and indicating perhaps that even though the central
government might be quite committed to quite honestly using all this
aid money for the purposes intended that when it gets down into the
provinces that may no longer be the case. If any of you could comment
on your confidence in the interim government's ability to enforce
making sure the aid is getting to where it is intended, and, if you do
have any concerns about the provincial leaders perhaps maybe having
different priorities than the central government?
Anstey: Mr. Chino.
Chino: Thank you very much. As you all know, this morning Chairman
Karzai was stressing the importance of anti-corruption and he said
that anti-corruption was a top priority for his authority.
Number one, two and half years from now there will be a general
election and the formal government will be formed. That will be the
start of a real good governance; I think that will provide for the
opportunity to strengthen real good governance.
Number two, for example, the trust fund, which will be managed by the
World Bank, ADB, and UNDP, and the Sri Lanka Development Bank, will be
managed on the basis of international level of monitoring and
auditing. And, for example, procurement using this money will based on
the severe guidelines of these institutions.
Number three, I think a community-based approach will be taken in the
recovery and reconstruction in the country. And the community and NGOs
will be monitoring, and that will be one of the very important factors
which ensures a minimum of corruption. These are the points that make
me optimistic about lessening corruption. Anyway, I think we should do
as much as possible in the coming two and a half years.
Anstey: I think Mr. Malloch Brown wants to add something.
Malloch Brown: I think there is a chicken and egg quality to this
because, as I mentioned, we are trying to meet the first paychecks of
civil servants, who had previously not been paid for six months. So,
of course, civil servants who are not paid, the temptation of
corruption, their inability or unwillingness to exert their authority
over local warlords, all of that becomes a vicious circle. But a donor
community which is willing to resource central government, take a bit
of a gamble on central government being able to reestablish itself is
I think the virtuous circle you can create. But it is certainly one
where we are not going to go into this naively; we are going to give
the support to central government, but, as Mr. Chino said, we are also
going to have a strong regime of audit and financial controls to
ensure that international donor resources are appropriately used.
Anstey: Yes, in the front row here on the left.  Yes, sir.
Yomiuri Shimbun: During the morning session the Japanese Government, I
understand, pledged US$500 million for the coming two and half years.
And with regard to the U.S. Government, US$298 million. Now, I would
like to ask you, with regard to your evaluation of these figures, from
the three organization heads please?
Anstey: Jim, why don't you go first?
Wolfensohn: Let me start by saying that the Japanese contribution was
for two and half years. The United States contribution of US$296
million was for one year, with a strong endorsement by Secretary
Powell and Secretary O'Neil that they would seek continuous support at
around those levels. So, in terms of my own record keeping, which I
have on a little yellow piece of paper, I am making the assumption
that there will be continuity in the American support, which was
vigorously expressed this morning. So, I think, for the first year
approximately US$300 million from the U.S., which would be US$750
million if you were to extend it for a two and half year period, is a
reasonable contribution. I think the Japanese contribution is also a
reasonable contribution. And you should remember that this was the
first pledging session this morning.
What we were anxious to do was to ensure that between the major
donors, which include the European Union, which as you know came in
with US$500 million in the first year, and the Bank itself, my own
institution, which came in between US$550 million and US$570 million
for the two and half period, it looks as though we are approaching the
needs. In particular, I think what all three of us are anxious to
ensure is, particularly in this first year and in the first months,
that we get the necessary funding available, so they can get started.
So, it is not for me to contrast Japan, U.S., and the European Union.
Let me say simply that I think we are in striking distance, and I
think my colleagues would agree. But that is for the Chairman to make
an announcement on later today.
Chino: Well, we had a pledge of very strong support and I think these
figures demonstrate this. Very continued support has been expressed
and this is most encouraging. In the case of Japan, despite the very
tight fiscal situation that Japan is in compared to other countries,
this large amount of financial contribution has been committed to and
this shows the enthusiasm of the Japanese Government to Afghanistan,
and we evaluate that very highly.
Anstey: Mark.
Malloch Brown: Yes, I mean, similarly, I think that everybody has
performed to the top level of expectations we had for them as donors
coming into it. Japan has lived up to our hopes for it as host and
leader of this process; but, others have also come out at the very top
end of what we might have expected. So, all around, I think a lot of
hard work by a lot of officials in governments to make sure they
really have found every resource they could to push their numbers as
high as possible has paid off.
Anstey: Thank you.  Yes sir.
Hans van der Lugt, NRC Handelsblad: In yesterday's press conference of
the four co-chairs, only the EU said it was willing to also put money
in the trust fund. The US, Japan, and Saudi Arabia all said they
preferred bilateral trade. Could I have a comment on that, because as
you mentioned several times, there is a need to pay salaries and this
will have to come out of the trust fund I understand? Please comment
on that.
Anstey: Jim?
Wolfensohn: Well, I do not think that we are finished on the issue of
the trust fund yet. I think what the three of us have been doing this
morning is to indicate that we have to get running costs for the
government. The Afghan authorities have made that very clear. I think
that there was this morning a clear understanding that there is going
to be a mixture between bilateral and trust fund contributions. And so
I do not regard the issue as closed; I regard it as an issue that is
currently being debated. The reality is that we have to get the
funding for the Government. Since that is the reality, I expect it
will happen.
Anstey: Yes sir, on the left.
NHK: As there was a previous question on the accountability of the
Interim Administration, I would rather like to direct these questions
to the donators. As there was a question about co-existence of
bilateral aids and trust funds, how are the donators going to avoid
overlap in aid policies? One school is made by one flag, another by
another flag, on road by one country, and another by another. How are
you going to avoid this inefficiency?
Wolfensohn: Well, first of all, the donors have got to want to do it
and I believe they do. But secondly, we will be presenting tomorrow a
program resulting from a thing called the Global Gateway, which is a
computer-based system that will have a transparent presentation, if
the authorities elect to use it, of everybody's work so that you will
have a real time listing of the efforts of everybody, that is,
bilaterals, trust funds, NGOs, and civil society. And that can be up
and running in a very, very short time.
So, the mechanics exist to have latest technology in terms of managing
and coordinating the practice. The only thing then that is needed is
the will. It is our hope, given transparency and given, I believe, the
likelihood that the Afghan authorities will want to do it, that
everyone will be willing. It is by the way in everyone's interest not
to keep falling all over each other. So, my guess is that reason will
prevail and we will have a system. And the system is already
developed, so it can move immediately.
Anstey: I think there was a question at the back? Yes sir, in the
sixth row there.
Yomiuri Shimbun: I would like to speak in Japanese if possible. A
question from a different perspective. When we talk about support and
assistance to Afghanistan, in the Johannesburg G-8 [Group of 8:
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian, United States, United
Kingdom] meeting, what will be the positioning of this Afghan issue?
Ten years ago, for the Agenda 21 for the global environment, one of
the major challenges yet to be answered was the issue of assistance to
developing countries. You are going to reinforce your assistance to
Afghanistan, but would there be any impact on the assistance to other
developing countries because of this?
Anstey: Mark, do you want to take this?
Malloch Brown: Yes, Kofi Annan, this morning in his statement pleaded
with donor countries not to allow a diversion of existing scarce
resources to other developing countries to go to Afghanistan. A number
have observed that we are all determined to resource the
reconstruction of Afghanistan appropriately, but it would be an
enormous perversity if the resources to rebuild Afghanistan were taken
away from Africa, a region which has suffered tremendous depletion of
development resources in recent years.
I think the truth of the matter is that the timing of the Afghan
crisis, coming as it did in the last quarter of last year, it was
after most donors had developed their development budgets for this
year. So, in the short term undoubtedly, there is some diversion of
resources from other purposes. But, we in the UN, and I know I speak
for the World Bank and I am sure for the Asian Development Bank too,
want to use not just the conference in Johannesburg but the conference
before that on financing for development in Monterrey, Mexico, to
argue for a sharp increase in development resources to tackle global
poverty. And we very much hope, that after 2002, the funding of both
Afghanistan, that other additional support to weak states in the
world, will be additional to current levels of ODA [official
development assistance].
Anstey: Thank you. We have time for one more question. Gentleman here
in the third row.
Q: We are speaking about aid to Afghanistan. And you experts, I guess
had very little time to make assessments, and the bottom line of today
for Afghanistan. But what is the upper line? What is the goal of your
assessment? What are you going to want to see in Afghanistan after the
$US50 million dollars are granted to this country.
Anstey: Mr. Wolfensohn?
Wolfensohn, World Bank: Well, the first thing is we want to see peace
and we want to see an opportunity for the Afghan people to fulfill
themselves. With a life expectancy of 44 years, with only 38 percent
of boys in school, with 3 percent of girls in school, with women
having been pushed out of the society, with limited roads, with only a
third of the people having access to water or less, there are many
goals that we would like to see. So, I think our hope is to have a
functioning and viable society led by Afghans, who by the way have a
very long experience in administration and in business and in running
their country. They have been disrupted.
But, our major effort is to help them restore a culturally safe
Afghanistan -- safe for their traditions and their practices. The only
other thing I would say, and then pass to Mr. Chino, is that in terms
of the funding and the levels of funding, I think all three of us
believe, that the events of 11 September have made, what appeared to
some people to be overseas commitments, or charitable commitments to
overseas development, or fringe commitments, into domestic issues. And
if the world has not learned after 11 September that poverty, wherever
it is, is a domestic issue for the developed countries, then we are in
deep trouble. And I think Afghanistan is the first step at which we
can expand our development assistance and support, and have the world
recognize that instances such as this are no longer part of that 0.23
percent of GNP or 0.5 percent or 0.7 percent of GNP [gross national
product] going to overseas aid. But, they are, in fact, domestic
issues that we have to worry about. And if we do not get this right we
will not have peace and we will all be in trouble.
Anstey: Mr. Chino?
Chino: With regards to the upper lines for these needs -- no upper
line. We will try to provide more accurate estimates in the
comprehensive needs assessment.
Anstey: I did miss the woman in the third row, so that will be our
last question.
Financial Times: I just had two quick questions. Just to clarify on
the US$500 million from the World Bank, can you more specifically
define concessional assistance? And also clarify this concessional
assistance is going into the trust fund, of which I guess the World
Bank is the fiduciary agent, or whatever the right term is.
And the second question would be, regarding the, I think it was
yesterday Mr. Malloch Brown said, only 25 percent of the money that
you expected to come into Afghanistan would be going into this fund.
So, how does that effect the computer system, which will be overseeing
the fund, are you not concerned about the possibility of money going
where it should not, given that the computer system is supposed to be
obviously overseeing that 25 percent only, if I understand correctly?
Anyway if you could correct my misunderstanding?
Wolfensohn: On first question, I will pass to Mark. For the US$50
million to US$70 million will be grants, and I hope they will be
relatively quick. And the US$500 million will be on IDA [International
Development Association, the World Bank's concessionary lender] terms,
which is 40 years, no interest; 10 years no repayments, which has a
very strong concessional element in it. And, we will have to decide
how much goes into the trust fund, but so far as I am concerned, the
trust fund is the number one priority. We have got to keep the country
moving, and I will be telling that to my board. But, I would expect
that we will have a number of projects as well.
Anstey: Mark?
Malloch Brown: Let me just say on the numbers, it gives me an
opportunity to say that, the reason today has been such a success is
not least because the two multilateral development banks have come
through so strongly. You know, when they pass the hat down the table,
and say, "How much are you each doing?" I sink down in my chair
because, obviously, as the UN we are not able to put in the kind of
resources that these institutions have put in, and we really praise
them for what they are doing.
On this issue of the size of the trust fund, let me be clear, when I
say 25 percent that is not a judgment about what is best in terms of
size. It is a practical calculation based on what someone else
mentioned, which is when a number of the major donors have indicated
that they do not plan to use the trust fund, or only use it at the
margins, you are left with a smaller pool. But the fact is that some
of the strong but smaller donors -- the Nordics, the Netherlands, as
well as the international financial institutions -- recognize that in
a situation like this pooled funding in order to meet unmet priorities
and the recurrent costs of government, is absolutely indispensable for
a successful, agile operation, which is keeping government on the
road, and meeting unmet priorities. So, if it is more than 25 percent
I will be the first to be thrilled.
On the second point, about the tracking system, please understand that
precisely because we could only engineer a scheme where pooled money
in a trust fund was a minority of the overall funding envelope. The
tracking and information management system about projects, covers the
totality of development activities. Again, we are trying to get the
best of both worlds here; we are recognizing that big donors to
sustain public support back home, believe they have to undertake a lot
of bilateral activities. But we want, and the Afghan Interim Authority
wants, them to work within a single comprehensive framework. Which
means that the Afghanistan Authority set the lead in identifying both
priority sectors and priority projects within those sectors. But all
of it is costed, and is felt to be macroeconomically sustainable, and
that then within that bilateral sub-contract certain activities --
that they do not stray outside the agreed framework. And then the
reporting system reports on the whole thing, both what is being done,
different rates of implementation and status of implementation, so
that we, in a sense, get that comprehensive, combined impact, as
though it was just one commonly funded program. So we have here a
scheme, which is if you like, multi-bi in its design.
Anstey: Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, we have to let our
principals go. But, if you have any drill-down questions I am sure our
co-authors of the report or experts will be in the room for the next
couple of minutes.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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