SRSG Yamamoto at the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board meeting
KABUL - The following is a transcript of the opening remarks delivered by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, at the beginning of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board meeting.
Opening Remarks of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, at the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board
[as delivered ]
Kabul, 22 July 2019
President Ghani, Minister of Finance Dr. Qayoumi, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, JCMB, is a unique mechanism where the government and the international community together review the progress in the development of Afghanistan, identify challenges, and discuss gaps and the way forward.
This is the first JCMB after the Geneva Ministerial Conference in November 2018 and is important in following on the outcome and decisions of the Conference, especially the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework, GMAF. I am very pleased that the JCMB today is going to be run, reflecting faithfully its spirit.
Afghanistan is at an important crossroad in its history. Prospects for peace have never been greater and we must not lose the momentum. The presidential elections are just nine weeks away. It must have a credible outcome. I am looking forward to hearing HE the President’s views at this critical juncture for the country.
The government has made achievements: revenue mobilization; stabilizing economy; reforms in public finance management, especially the budget; procurement; women’s economic empowerment; more emphasis on regional connectivity; and encouraging the private sector.
I also appreciate the government’s efforts for anti-corruption and accountability; however, more needs to be done. Corruption and accountability issues undermine the credibility of elections; they also weaken the negotiating position of the Afghan government in peace process vis-à-vis the Taliban. They also remain a pre-requisite for building confidence amongst the people of Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s development partners who themselves need to be accountable to their taxpayers. I am looking forward to fruitful discussion on these issues during the session on GMAF with a particular focus on anti-corruption and accountability.
The parliamentary elections last year were a difficult process. There are many lessons to be learnt and implemented for the upcoming presidential elections. We must have credible presidential elections on schedule in order to give the elected president the authority needed to bring the country together in the peace process.
Despite achievements, there are many challenges Afghans continue to face such as: the poverty levels that have increased; unemployment which remains high; food insecurity that is a serious concern; humanitarian responses to needs which remain pressing as well as many social indicators are under stress. Strategic long-term objectives will have to include increasing the country’s economic growth and reducing the population growth. I am encouraged that the government is focusing on issues of economic growth with a view to lessening its dependence on international assistance and seeking self-reliance through various means possible. We look forward to hearing the government’s views on achievements, challenges and plans for economic growth during the second session.
During the Geneva Ministerial Conference, we decided to adopt a more focused and prioritized sector approach in key priority areas. The government has identified five sectors in this regard, namely: Education; Health; Agriculture; Sub-National Governance; and Justice. A coordination structure which links high-level policy and decision-making structures on one side, with different sector coordination structures on the other, is key in delivering essential services to people. Although all these sectors are important, we will focus on the education and health sectors today.
The people of Afghanistan have high expectations on the government and its partners. I hope this JCMB will play its role in informing us of what is being done, where the pitfalls are, what remains to be done, and what are planned for the future. Frank discussions are needed in preparing us to work towards the 2020 Ministerial Conference next year.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the tremendous effort to make this meeting a success, especially by the team of the Ministry of Finance. I welcome you to the meeting and am looking forward to fruitful discussions conducted in a constructive and candid manner.