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Afghan, EU envoys seeking ways to mitigate COVID-19 risk

KABUL (TOLO News): Members of the European Union Business Council in a video conference with Afghan Special Envoy Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar discussed the solutions that can mitigate the risk of the coronavirus pandemic for the private sector in Afghanistan.

Findings of a meeting of the EU Business Council from March 25 were shared with the Afghan envoy in this meeting, who briefed the envoys on the Afghan government’s measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the people and on the country’s economy which remains fragile due to ongoing political turmoil as well as conflicts.

The positive cases of the coronavirus are nearing 500 in Afghanistan; however, officials have warned that the number of those who have contracted the virus is much higher compared to the figures provided by the Ministry of Public Health which has increased the capacity of COVID-19 testing centers to almost 1,000 a day.

The EU Business Council members raised their concerns regarding access to food and medicines as well as raw materials for the manufacturing industry, hence the importance of keeping all borders open, according to a statement by the council.

Representative of the banking sector requested government guarantees for providing loans despite the current uncertainties, including to SMEs.

Members of the council reiterated that, if prolonged, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis includes reshaping the Afghan economy and, for the better side of it, accelerating its conversion from a war economy to a peace economy.

In this meeting, EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, Convener of the Business Council, noted that for the combined actions of the Government and the Private Sector to deliver results and effectively mitigate the impact of the pandemic, political unity is both a shared expectation and an urgent necessity.

The council’s commitment, according to the statement, is to take contribute in mitigating the risk of the pandemic through various means including raising awareness, ensuring business continuity, offering technology-related solutions and keeping with CSR obligations.

The EU council also offered partnership with the Afghan government that starts policy recommendations on better informing citizens, ensuring access to food and medical supplies, facilitating business continuity through tax adjustments.

The partnership will also help in promoting the notion of “digital Afghanistan” as well as converting the war economy into a peace economy, according to the statement.

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