Since 2005, CIPE has been working with the business community in Afghanistan to build their capacity to work with the government to improve the business environment in Afghanistan. CIPE has helped business associations identify the challenges and barriers to business, develop practical policy solutions, and effectively communicate the policies to government officials.
A major step for the business community was the launch of the CIPE-supported Afghanistan National Business Agenda (NBA) in 2011. The NBA is a grassroots program to build consensus among the business community of the most urgent policy priorities. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) led a coalition of 11 business associations in conducting public forums in five major cities with over 1,300 business people to gather input on improving the business environment. Based on the input from these forums, the coalition produced a report outlining the business community’s reform agenda.
Since the launch of the NBA in 2011, CIPE has supported the NBA coalition in advocating for the implementation of the policy reforms. The advocacy campaigns have been highly successful, increasing land and infrastructure for businesses, reducing and simplifying taxes and licenses, reducing corruption, and improving government services.
The 2014 Afghanistan presidential elections presented a great opportunity for a renewed efforts by the business community to advance their reform priorities. ACCI, in partnership with Harakat, organized a National Business Forum on February 27 to once again bring the business community together to unify behind a common agenda.
Over 400 people attended the forum, which provided an opportunity for representatives from the private sector to discuss challenges and barriers in the business climate in Afghanistan and a platform to offer practical recommendations. The participants divided into working groups focusing on different sectors of the economy: agriculture, mining and natural resources, infrastructure, heavy and light industries, trade and transit, services, human resources development, and anti-corruption. ACCI and Harakat compiled the feedback from the participants, and produced a report outlining the updated policy priorities.
ACCI and Harakat distributed the report to the presidential candidates and ask for their support . Following the elections, ACCI and Harakat plan to work with the new administration in implementing the reforms. They plan to focus their advocacy efforts on the first 100 days, hosting six televised roundtables to raise awareness of the issues.
“Security, politics stability, strong will against corruption, appropriate tax system, investment incentive policies, access to finance, infrastructures such power and land and immunity of investments are the main requirements to create the favorable business environment,” said Harakat CEO Naseem Akbar.
Tim Wallace is an Assistant Program Officer for Afghanistan and South Asia at CIPE.