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    50pc of US aid to be used in 2 years: Zakhilwal

    KABUL (PAN): Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal on Wednesday signed an agreement with the the United States Agency for International Development on using 50 percent of American aid within two years by the Afghan government, an official said.

    Until the next solar year, starting on March 21, Afghanistan would use 35 percent of the aid and the spending would increase to 50 percent by the end of the next year through national budget under the agreement that was signed between the finance minister and a USAID representative in Kabul.

    According to the Ministry of Finance, USAID has so far provided Afghanistan with $30 billion (1.4 trillion afghanis) and $5.1 billion of the assistance has been used through the national budget.

    Speaking to reporters, Zakhilwal said the USAID provided $2 to $3 billion on an annual basis to Afghanistan for different sectors. "In the coming Afghan year, USAID will provide one billion dollars, which will be spent through the national budget."

    Finance ministry officials say the international community pledged $69 billion over the past 10 years and $57 billion of the aid has been received so far. About 18 percent of the aid was incorporated in the budget while the rest was spent by donors themselves.

    Speaking on the occasion, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said the aid would be used in areas of good governance, economic and infrastructure development, education, health and other sectors.

    "Although our military mission is going to end, our efforts to support Afghanistan and the peace process will continue," he said.

    frm/ma/mud