KABUL - There has been economic development in the country over the past few years, with poverty declining by six percent last year, a minister told Parliament on Sunday. Commerce and Industry Minister Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Minister of Finance Dr. Omar Zakhilwal and Chamber of Commerce and Industries chief, Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, were summoned to the Wolesi Jirga to brief lawmakers on the economic situation and hurdles to development.
Ahmadi, citing a survey conducted four years ago, said 42 percent of population was living under the poverty line. However, he added another survey conducted last year showed the ratio had declined to 36 percent.
A person who earns less than one US dollar a day was considered living under the poverty line, the minister said. "If the security situation improves, the required electricity is provided and land for new industrial parks acquired, the country's production and exports will increase..."
He put the country's annual economic growth at 12 percent, saying exports increased by 25 to 30 percent. A recent transit trade agreement with Pakistan, if implemented in letter and spirit, would help provide a number of facilities to Afghan traders, he continued.
For his part, Zakhilwal said, Afghanistan had achieved "tremendous economic growth" over the last few years. Nine years ago, he recalled, the annual income of an Afghan was up to $180. The figure currently stood at $600, he claimed.
Afghanistan would confront huge development challenges if foreigners left, the minster warned, stressing the need for investment in mega projects. He linked foreign investment to the security situation.
Haqjo said the country was passing through an economic crisis and the principal problem was poverty, not the Taliban. "Afghanistan's problem is poverty, not the Taliban." (Pajhwok)