Foundation stone of customs academy laid
Being constructed on 17 acres of land, the building would be completed by the end of 2012, the deputy finance minister for revenue and customs, Syed Mubin Shah, told the foundation stone-laying ceremony.
The US will provide $7 million and EU $9 million for the academy, where 100 officials are trained annually. The academy is currently operating in a building of a police academy. With the completion of the project, the number of trainees will increase to 300.
Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal called the building vital. "Appointing professionals to the customs departments and fighting graft could play a significant role in boosting national revenue," he said.
Although the global fraternity pledged long-term assistance at the Bonn Conference, Afghanistan needed to stand on its own feet, Zakhilwal stressed. "An aid-addicted country cannot have a stable system over the longer haul," he remarked.
EU special representative to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Ušackas, hoped Afghan custom officials would work professionally and efficiently after the completion of the academy. With good custom services, Afghanistan's revenue would also increase, he said.
"Establishment of the academy reflects assistance from the EU to the Afghan government and it will prove that EU will convert the Afghan customs into a fully developed institution," Ušackas added.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, also present at the ceremony, considered the customs academy significant for the development of Afghanistan. The project would help the Afghan government become self-reliance, he believed.
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