Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 11:11 UK

World Bank urges Afghan openness

Taliban fighters by tank
Warn-torn Afghanistan has become reliant on international aid

The government in war-torn Afghanistan must be more accountable if it is to rebuild its country and economy, the World Bank has said in a report.

It also warned that the country relied on a "second civil service" of foreign consultants who inflated the cost of hiring skilled professionals.

The Afghan government is due to ask international donors to fund a $50bn reconstruction plan on Wednesday.

But the Bank called for more assurances that aid money would be properly spent.

Revenue drain

The report, called Building an Effective State: Priorities for Public Administration Reforms in Afghanistan, said that the war-ravaged country had to strengthen its institutions to provide better security and services to its citizens.

Unless citizens can see that civil servants are serving the larger public interest rather their own, the government's trustworthiness will be eroded
Alastair McKechnie
World Bank

And it urged the government to take on more of the work currently done by the international community.

The report highlighted a "second civil service" of consultants hired from outside the country who were poorly supervised, drained the government of skilled workers and pushed up labour costs.

It said a dependence on external aid was to blame for the reliance on external professionals. In 2006-2007, Afghanistan received more than $4bn of aid - that equates to seven times Afghanistan's domestic revenues.

Last month, parliament approved higher pay for civil servants in an attempt to attract and retain skilled employees.

Fragile countries

The report comes the day before Afghanistan presents an ambitious reconstruction plan to international donors in the French capital Paris.

But the World Bank is worried about how the government will handle billions of dollars of aid money in the face of widespread corruption.

"Unless citizens can see that civil servants are serving the larger public interest rather their own, the government's trustworthiness will be eroded," said Alastair McKechnie, World Bank director of fragile and conflict-affected countries.

President Hamid Karzai is keen to secure aid to invest in areas such as agriculture, which is crucial to efforts to improve food security.




SEE ALSO
World Bank in Afghan aid warning
04 Jun 08 |  South Asia
Country profile: Afghanistan
04 Jun 08 |  Country profiles
Profile: IMF and World Bank
29 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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