World Bank sees 4.9 pct growth in Afghanistan

Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal and Japan's Ambassador to Kabul, Reiichiro Takahashi address a press conference ahead of the Tokyo economic conference on Afghanistan in Kabul on July 1, 2012. Afghanistan's economy is expected to grow at 4.9 percent a year between now and 2025, the World Bank said, though with good management the figure could rise to 6.7 percent. AFP PHOTO / QAIS USYAN

KABUL: Afghanistan’s economy is expected to grow at 4.9 percent a year between now and 2025, the World Bank said Sunday, though with good management it could rise to 6.7 percent. The war-torn country, beset by a decadelong Taliban insurgency and rampant corruption, is one of the world’s poorest, with more than a third of the population living below the poverty line in 2008.

With NATO combat troops due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, there are fears of a consequent meltdown in the graft-plagued economy.

Even with sustained growth of 6 percent a year, it will take a generation to double Afghanistan’s GDP per capita – currently a meager $528 – the World Bank said.

Ahead of a major international conference in Tokyo on Afghanistan’s economic future, World Bank country director Bob Saum said that the coming decade offered “high hopes, expectations and great opportunities” for Afghanistan.

Proper management of agriculture and the resource sector could boost growth from the current forecast of 4.9 percent average annual rate to 6.7 percent, he said.

Afghanistan is believed to have mineral reserves worth as much as $3 trillion which could theoretically generate billions of dollars in tax revenue.

Afghanistan goes to next week’s conference looking to secure $4 billion a year in pledges from international donors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 02, 2012, on page 6.




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