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Insecurity, fund paucity hit Ghazni projects

Insecurity, fund paucity hit Ghazni projects

Mar 19, 2013 - 17:46

 KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Two senior officials on Tuesday informed the Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon that insecurity, lack of funds and fewer construction firms stymied certain projects in southern Ghazni province.

The projects are part of government's efforts to prepare Ghazni City, the provincial capital, to serve as Asian capital of the Islamic civilisation in 2013.

In 2007, the ancient city was selected at a conference held in Tripoli to serve as the capital of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO).

Last year, a Senate delegation that visited Ghazni to assess the progress of renovation work and revival of the city’s cultural heritage said in its report most historical monuments had been rebuilt by the Provincial Reconstructioninfo-icon Team (PRTinfo-icon), but the government was yet to do anything.

The delegation estimated that at least $50 million (2.5 billion afs) were needed to make the province a major cultural centre. But only id="mce_marker"7 million have been pledged by the government so far.

Of the 30 monuments, supposed to be renovated ahead of 2013, only 10 had been rebuilt over the past four years, the report said.

It acknowledged that local officials and residents were suffering from two setbacks -- the finance ministry’s failure to transfer money in time and occupation of Islamic Cultural Centre by the Afghan army.

On Tuesday, the upper house summoned Information and Culture Minister Syed Makhdoom Rahin and Senior Adviser to President on Construction, Mines, Water & Energy Yousaf Pakhtun to brief lawmakers on the projects.

Pakhtun said there were a total of 250 archaeological sites, but project officials had agreed to complete the renovation of only 50. He added only 30 of the 50 sites had been renovated so far and the rest were in different stages of completion.

He said 90 percent wok on a 100 kilometre road had been completed while other schemes, including a canalisation system, repair of the airport, a huge building for the Islamic Civilisation Centre and others were passing through initial stages of their completion.

Pakhtun, also a member of the Afghan Association of Architects and Engineers, said all required projects could not be completed in time because they had not been able to win enough funds from Islamic countries -- mainly due to increasing insecurity.

He said another factor was frequent transfers and postings of provincial governors. He said the projects required id="mce_marker"00 million, but the international community and Islamic countries had released only 15 million for the purpose.

He also said the Finance Ministry had failed to release in time the id="mce_marker"0 million annual funds it had pledged to provide. He stressed 35 key projects should be completed by the ministries concerned over the remaining six months time.

He said the projects could be completed if security was improved and cooperation among the departments concerned increased.

Foreign ministers from nearly 40 Islamic countries would hold their maiden meeting in Ghazni city on April 13 to confer on projects, he said.

Afghan cabinet ministers and lawmakers would attend the meeting, he said, adding defence and interior ministers planned to meet next week to discuss security measures in place for the projects.

For his part, Rahin said the information and culture ministry had been able to nearly complete all the projects concerning it.

He said his ministry had to perform two tasks in preparing Ghazni City to serve as Asian capital --- one arranging seminars and second repairing historic sites.

His ministry had organised a number of seminars, besides publishing 22 booklets and journals, Rahin said, adding repair works on many historic sites had been completed and the rest would be finished until mid-October.

Rahin said if Afghan security forces failed to provide elaborate security in a mall of city for the week long celebrations expected in October, it would shatter their hopes for security of the entire country after foreign troops’ withdrawal.




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