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Cabinet picks spell out priorities

Cabinet picks spell out priorities

Mar 04, 2012 - 17:57

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Four of the nine ministers-designate nominated by President Hamid Karzai for a vote of confidence from the Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon on Sunday briefed parliamentarians on their future plans.

Karzai named nine people for Cabinet slots two weeks ago. Mohammad Ismail Khan has been nominated as water and energy minister, Amirzai Sangin as telecommunications and information technology minister, Dr. Suraya Dalil as public healthinfo-icon minister and Husan Bano Ghazanfar as womeninfo-icon's affairs minister.

Obaidullah Obaid has been named as minister-designate for higher educationinfo-icon, Wais Ahmad Barmak for rural rehabilitation and development, Daud Ali Najafi for transport and aviation, Hassan Abdul Lilahi for urban development and Najibullah Aujan for public works.

Suraya Dalil told lawmakers that it was a matter of great concern that 75 percent of her ministry’s expenses came in foreign aid. She added if the aid was stopped, the ministry’s 75 percent activities would stop.

The acting minister stressed the need for enhanced cooperation between the Wolesi Jirga and the Ministry of Finance in introducing health sector reforms to deal with the situation.

"A large portion of the budget should be allocated to the public health sector," she suggested, saying several challenges were hindering provision of health services, as only 65 people had access to proper services.

Another Cabinet nominee, Amirzai Sangin, said the process of introducing the 3G Internet system had been completed and private firms would soon start providing the facility.

“The system will enhance the Internet speed and improve voice quality of telephonic conversations,” he said, adding work on a fiber optic project had been completed in 12 provinces and was underway in another 20.

Another plan was to issue computerised ID cards over the next six months, he informed lawmakers.

Mohammad Ismail Khan, President Karzai’s choice for water and energy ministry, said he would supply electricity to 70 percent of Afghans if he received a vote of confidence.  Power supply to 70 percent of population required $7 billion (337.5 billion afs), he pointed out.

Khan identified the capacity building of the ministry’s staff and construction of hydroelectric dams as his some of his priorities. He said work on some dams was ongoing.

Minister-designate for transport and aviation, Najafi, said he would pave the ground for enhancing the capacity of his ministry’s employees, in addition to reconstructing airports across the country.

Najafi promised public transport services would be launched in most of the province, an issue that had already been discussed with Indian and Japanese governments. He said India had pledged 1,000 public transport buses.

"My aim is bring Kabul, Mazar, Kandahar and Herat airports to international standards," he continued, revealing that a separate airport in central Logar province would be built to reduce the rush at on Kabul International Airport.


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