Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhiwal and Russian Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabibullina have signed an agreement in Moscow on the setting up of an intergovernmental commission on Economic cooperation.
The signing ceremony was held on the 14th of June. A decision on creating an intergovernmental commission was adopted after the talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow in January. Omar Zakhiwal and Russia’s Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko will be the co-chairmen of the commission.
Before signing the document, the two sides discussed how to promote Russian-Afghan trade and economic cooperation. They examined several concrete projects and Omar Zakhiwal and Elvira Nabibullina expressed hope that the intergovernmental commission would help private business to be involved in these projects.
The first meeting of the intergovernmental commission with the involvement of interested sides was held on the 14th of June. Moreover, the Afghan delegation held talks with the Russian Finance Minister.
After signing the agreement on creation of a Russian-Afghan intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation, Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhiwal has this to say in an exclusive interview with the “Afghanistan.ru” information portal.
“The creation of the intergovernmental commission is another step towards promoting economic cooperation between the two countries,” emphasized Omar Zakhiwal and added that sub committees would be set up to handle the work of various trends. “Among the trends outlined by the agreement as the work of the commission are the creation of favourable conditions for businessmen, the resolution of transport and transit problems and the implementation of regional projects,” the Afghan Finance Minister said.
Omar Zakhiwal expressed confidence that the implementation of large-scale projects that had been approved would be started by the end of the year. “I hope the commission will establish close coordination with the Afghan embassy in Russia and the Afghan Business Centre in Moscow,” the Afghan Finance Minister said.
One of the tasks set by the commission, according to Omar Zakhiwal, is the reconstruction and modernization of the facilities built with the Soviet Assistance in Afghanistan. “There is no necessary to reconstruct all the facilities built by the Soviet Union, of course. However, there are undoubtedly priority projects that are crucial for the country’s social and economic areas,” the Finance Minister said. Among these are, according to Omar Zakhiwal, integrated house-building factory in Kabul, Salang transport route, Kabul Polytechnic University, elevator in Kabul, cement factory in Kabal-Saraj, fertilizer factory in Mazar-e-Sharif irrigation canal in Nangarhar and Surubi-2 hydro-power station.
Omar Zakhiwal believes that it’s extremely important that the intergovernmental commission produces results and fulfilled its tasks without making declarations that have nothing to do with reality.
The Afghan Finance Minister noted that it would be problematic to carry out successful and effective work in implementing those projects, which are interested by Russia and Afghanistan, under the current complicated social and economic situation. “In view of this, I am suggesting giving priority to three less problematic projects and implement them this year. Moreover, this will streamline their financing,” Omar Zakhiwal said.
He drew special attention to regional projects which are promising and can be implemented with Russia’s involvement.
“We are showing keen interested in projects linked to energy and transport,” said the Afghan Finance Minister having in mind the CASA -1000 and TAPI projects and the possible involvement of Russia in the construction of railroads in Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan has no objections to Russia’s involvement in the TAPI project, but a decision should be taken by all its participants – Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India,” said Omar Zakhiwal in response to a question by the Afghanistan.ru portal correspondent about Kabul’s position towards the possible involvement of the RF in this regional project.
The programme of the Afghan delegation headed by Omar Zakhiwal also included a visit to the office of the Afghan Business Centre in Moscow. During the visit, Afghan ambassador to Russia Azizulla Karzai accompanied the delegation.
Speaking at the office, Omar Zakhiwal described the role of public and private organizations, including ABC, as crucial in attracting foreign investment into the Afghan economy. The officials of the Afghan Business Centre knows the Russian market much better than us and its’ easier for them to establish contacts with local businessmen and government departments. Consequently, the Afghan Business Centre is our consultant in the Russian trend,” the Afghan Finance Minister said.