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Clinton Pledges $40 Million for Afghanistan Elections March 31, 2009

Posted by Molly in News.
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Clinton at the International Conference on Afghanistan

Secretary Clinton at the International Conference on Afghanistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a commitment of $40 million to underwrite the cost of holding elections in Afghanistan this summer, at the International Conference on Afghanistan held in the Hague on Monday.  Read the full transcript here.  She also stressed the importance of physical infrastructure and rural development, suggesting a more prominent role for USAID in the president’s approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The pledge of $40 million for the election will help pay for the distribution of ballot boxes and the counting of ballots. It is separate from the costs of providing security for the election.

Underscoring the administration’s promise to scrutinize the use of aid money, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew traveled with Secretary Clinton to the Hague and then to Afghanistan.  Read her comments on aid accountability after the break. 

Secretary Clinton:

We’re building on the lessons learned.  We are scrubbing every single civilian program. … We are looking at every single dollar as to how it’s spent and where it’s going and trying to track the outcome. … We want to see real results. … We’re going to try to impose greater measures of accountability so that we can actually trace the investment and the payoff for the American taxpayers and for the people on the ground.

But we recognize that we’re starting at a point where there is very little credibility for a lot of what’s already been invested. And it’s heartbreaking … the amount of money that was spent … and the failure of being able to produce results that people can point to.

Clinton focused additional support for physical and social infrastructure and agriculture.  She spoke about the need for “the raw material of progress – roads, public institutions, schools, hospitals, irrigation, and agriculture.”  Clinton identified agriculture, which comprises 70 percent of Afghanistan’s economy, as the key to Afghanistan’s development.  The US will focus its efforts on rural development in provinces near the Afghan-Pakistan border.  USAID will be a key contributor in these areas, and the scale of these projects will demand significant new financial resources.

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