In December, CoST Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Builders Association (ABA) conducted an awareness raising event on providing fair business opportunities for the private sector through the disclosure of infrastructure project information. The event focussed on familiarising the construction industry and national investors with CoST aims and mandates and was attended by representatives from across private sector, government and civil society.
Participants heard from Dr Mirwais Bahij, Director General of Planning and Consolidation, Ministry of Economy who spoke about the importance of infrastructure transparency and accountability and the role of private sector in this and in furthering economic development in Afghanistan.
Dr Bahij said: “The private sector has played an important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and has had a direct effect on all sectors, especially agriculture, the extraction industries, trade and transportation.’’ He went on to emphasise the government’s commitment to achieving high quality infrastructure projects through strong private sector relationships and disclosure of information.
The way in which CoST brings value to the private sector given its promotion on fairer and open contracting was promoted by speakers including Baryalai Omarzai, who is the Director of civil society organisation Afghan Community Rehabilitation Unit. The event also provided the opportunity for CoST Afghanistan to showcase the key concerns and good practices highlighted in its recently published first assurance report.
Whilst encouraging further private sector participation in infrastructure transparency, the event highlighted challenges the sector faces and possible means to overcome them. In an address from ABA Board Member Mohammad Jafar Alemi, context specific challenges were highlighted and a discursive working group saw different perspectives shared on the challenges and, specifically, how the government could help address them.
Mr Alemi emphasised that: “The government of Afghanistan should facilitate investment opportunities for construction companies, especially in mega-projects.’’ He also highlighted the need for more cooperation from the government in the bid guarantee process, either removing the guarantee or reducing it to give companies the financial flexibility they need to increase the number of projects they can bid on.
CoST Afghanistan will continue to conduct more events with the private sector to further institutionalise infrastructure transparency as well as to enhance coordination and collaboration between construction companies and investors.