KABUL - A signature ceremony was held on Tuesday at the Afghan Ministry of Economy where Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) to implement 60 approved projects under the $100 million Small Development Projects (SDP) scheme's announced during the visit of Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in May 2011, were signed. The MoUs were signed by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Minister of Economy, and Amar Sinha, Ambassador of India.
The first two phases of the SDP scheme with a total outlay of USD 20 million is nearing completion. The framework MoU between the Government of India and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for operationalizing the third phase of the SDP scheme with a capital outlay USD 100 million was signed in November 2012. The framework MoU for the third phase of the SDP scheme contains within its scope projects of a total capital cost of up to USD 100 million over the next 4 years, with a ceiling for individual projects to be capped at USD 1 million.
The framework MoU also states that at least USD 2 million worth of projects should be undertaken in each of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. These projects shall relate chiefly to socio-economic development, livelihood support, conservation of environmental and cultural heritage, empowerment of women, child welfare and facilitation of community life, particularly through the creation of infrastructure in the education, training, health, agriculture & agro-industry, micro-irrigation, renewable energy, trade, transport and communications, recreation or community development sectors.
The Ministry of Economy is the nodal Ministry for implementing the SDP scheme on the Afghan side. A Steering Committee chaired by the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economy and comprising representatives from the President's Office, the Indian Embassy and several concerned Afghan line Ministries oversee the selection and implementation of SDP scheme projects. Projects selected by the Steering Committee are sent to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India for technical and financial approvals. Once these approvals are received, individual MoUs for each project, are signed with the concerned line Ministry. The latter then implements the project by following the procedures of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
4. Recently, approvals have been received for 60 projects submitted under the third phase of the SDP scheme. These projects cover the provinces of Badakhshan, Badghis, Balkh, Farah, Faryab, Herat, Jawzjan, Kunduz, Samanghan and Takhar. Most of these projects involve the construction of primary and high schools, small hospitals, veterinary clinics, bore wells, bridges, protection walls, etc, and have a total approved cost of approx. USD 14.224 million. Thus, approx. USD 85.78 million remains available for project proposals, including from other provinces not covered in the first lot of approved projects.
5. The SDP scheme has been crafted by the Government of India to address the developmental needs of mainly rural communities in far-flung areas of Afghanistan. The scheme is entirely on-budget and utilizes and develops the capacity of the Afghan Government, through various line Ministries, to implement the projects. The SDP scheme reflects the combined will of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Government of India to address the development needs of the Afghan population, at a crucial phase in Afghanistan's history. (PR)