Ghani combines 8 state companies into new development entity

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Following a series of reports by TOLOnews focused on the Operation and Support Office of the President for National Development (OSOPND), documents show that President Ghani has now combined eight state-owned companies as the implementation arm of a new entity called the National Development Company, and has appointed Abdul RahmanAtash, an official in the Presidential Palace, to serve as its CEO.

A copy of President Ghani’s decree states that the National Development Company (NDC) is designed to better implement national development plans and projects and accelerate economic growth in the country.

But the move by Ghani has sparked strong reactions from a number of builders, as well as Integrity Watch Afghanistan. Banayee construction company, Helmand Construction Company, Afghan Construction Company, the Department of Housing, JabalSaraj Cement Plant and WadiNangarhar Agricultural Department are among the eight companies that are now operating under the NDC.

When asked about the current body handling such projects–the Operation and Support Office of the President for National Development (OSOPND)–the deputy head of the NDC for finance, ZiaullahShafiq, said: “They will undertake their job as usual, but they will be changed into a policy-making entity and will work alongside the National Development Company as a supportive entity.”

“It is a positive move if they (OSOPND) work as supportive and observer entities, but not as entities to implement government projects–if they becomes executors of the projects, then it a clear violation of Constitution of Afghanistan,” said Shafiq.

“If the government changes or reshuffles all infrastructure based on the decrees and orders of the president, then it is against the constitution of Afghanistan and this could have negative implications for the future of Afghanistan,” said SayedEkramAfzali, head of Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA).

“Our objective is to coordinate the management process,” added Shafiq.

On January 19, the Afghanistan Builders Association (ABA) strongly criticized the Afghan government–particularly the Operation and Support Office of the President for National Development (OSOPND)–for applying a ‘double standard’ to the private sector in Afghanistan in the bidding process for contracts. The union said the move has had a negative impact on the activities of the private sector in the country.

The Presidential Palace’s move to consolidate a group of state companies to implement development projects is a further blow to private construction companies who claim that already the bidding process is rigged against them.

According to a recent report by TOLONews, over the past two years OSOPND undertook 835 construction and reconstruction programs under 57 major projects. From the total, 113 programs have been completed. OSOPND officials said that so far they have saved Afs3 billion through “proper” planning.

Other big projects under the OSOPND include the construction of Machalgho Dam, the construction of 100 buildings for mosques and prayer houses, a construction project in Pul-e-Charkhi prison, a project at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, and the construction of buildings for hostels in 10 provinces of the country. (TOLOnews)