29 October 2013
Afghanistan has become the 11th country to join a global anti-corruption initiative which includes the UK, Guatemala and Vietnam and several African countries.
The Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) helps governments, the construction industry and civil society organisations create a more transparent public construction sector, citing "better outcomes" for all concerned as well as financial savings, particularly in road construction.
Afghanistan’s economy minister, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, said the move to join CoST represented a "step-change" for the country.
"In the post-war era, it is crucial that the way in which we approach oversight of public construction is consistent and open, battling against the corruption and mismanagement which can often be overlooked," he said.
Road construction is a major absorber of aid money in Afghanistan and joining CoST could lead to "improved value for public money and better infrastructure", he added.
Road construction is a major absorber of aid money in Afghanistan – joining CoST could lead to improved value for public money (Credit: Todd Huffman/Wikimedia)
One example of the initiative’s work is in Ethiopia where an estimated $3.7m was shaved off a $10m road construction contract because CoST recommended the adoption of an alternative design.
CoST believes post-conflict states are very capable of construction and reconstruction, and for Christiaan Poortman, chair of the CoST board, Afghanistan’s membership confirms "how important CoST can be for reconstruction and development in fragile states."Â
Afghanistan’s programme for implementing CoST will be headed up by the ministry of economy. It follows president Hamed Karzai’s decree last year to fight against corruption.
El Salvador and Uganda signed up to CoST earlier this year.
CoST says more countries are in the pipeline to join soon, but World Bank funding for the scheme runs out this December and CoST is seeking $20m to continue.