Importing agri products worth $3b a shame: Ghani
KABUL (Pajhwok): Stressing proper land management and expropriation and implementation of national infrastructure development projects, President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday said those preventing welfare projects from execution would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The president was speaking at a conference held about a draft law on land expropriation in Kabul.
“Our people trust the government, they are tired of injustices, obscurity and instability. People may question why the president in such a sensitive situation is giving two hours to this conference, because Allah, the people and the Constitution motivate us to explain the bright future of our country and not to surrender to pressure.”
He said the government was working for Afghanistan’s stability and for properly managing it territories as one of the ways to advance the country’s development.
Ghani added the Afghanistan Independent Land Authority (AILA) had great achievements including drafting the expropriation law. He said the Cabinet had decided to further empower AILA following its good performance.
“We did not maintain the balance between social welfare and self-interest in land expropriation… public interest is the main goal of the law, the rights and duties that the Constitution give us should be considered in all laws, and the balance in rights and duties should be observed,” Ghani added.
Land in Afghanistan was considered a problem while it should be used as a capital resource, he said, adding that there was no a clear standard for rightful utilization of land.
He said it was shameful for Afghanistan to import agriculture projects worth $3 billion while 80 percent of the country’s populations were associated with farming.
He said 90 percent of Afghanistan waters were traditionally controlled, calling poppy cultivation another improper use of the land.
Linking increase in income from land to its good management, he said that the purpose of the creation of the High Water and Land Council was to manage the country’s waters to be better utilised for irrigation.
The land expropriation needed more attention because water and land could not be properly managed until the land expropriation issue was solved, the president said.
He said government projects should observe justice, suggesting that those getting more benefits from welfare projects should reach an agreement with those who lose their land to projects’ implementation and justly share their properties among each other.
“If the justice in land expropriation is ignored, infrastructural projects like roads and railroads would not be implemented,” Ghani said.
He said Afghanistan law on land administration was based on Shariah and those violating the law would be dealt with accordingly.
“We apply the law whenever there are cases of land usurpation and projects that violate the law,” he said, adding that people’s participation in projects’ implementation should be considered because it was difficult to achieve goals without their participation.
He ordered the AILA head to mull over a trial implementation of the draft law before it was approved. Solving land disputes and finding alternatives to lands confiscated for projects should be also considered in the draft law.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Daud Shah Saba, who attended the conference, confirmed problems in land expropriation and said his ministry had also faced problems in implementing its projects.
He said the ministry’s technical teams were present at the conference and they would share their suggestions and views in this regard.
The ministers of public works and urban development and rehabilitation also said they faced problems during implementation of projects.
Deputy Finance Minister Mohammad Shafiq Qarizada said his ministry could not use its 50 percent development budget due to problems in the land expropriation law.
AILA head Jawad Paikar said the current expropriation law had several shortcomings, which needed to be addressed.
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