The Obama administration proposed $2.5 billion in financial assistance to Afghanistan on Tuesday when Secretary of State, John Kerry said the aid would reinforce the country’s security and development.
“Our proposal requests $2.5 billion for programmes that reinforce Afghanistan's security and development by maintaining the gains of the last decade, supporting military training and assistance…” Kerry said in his proposal to the Congress. He added the proposed assistance would help the Afghan government tackle corruption, counter the influence of extremists and terrorists, strengthen civil society and promote health, education, economic growth and good governance. Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama sent his last annual budget to the Congress, reaffirming America’s long term commitment to Afghanistan. “The budget continues to support long-term national security and economic interests in Afghanistan and helps sustain political, economic, and security gains in the country as the US draws down its forces and assistance levels gradually decline,” Obama said. It also includes resources to reinforce Afghanistan’s security and development by supporting military training as well as health, education, justice, economic growth, governance, and other civilian assistance programmess necessary to promote stability and strengthen diplomatic ties, said the White House. The State Department said the 2017 Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) of $672.1 million request continued transitioning to a more self-sustaining diplomatic mission, focused on diplomatic engagement, public outreach, and empowering the Government of Afghanistan in its ongoing efforts toward self-sustainment. Maintaining the development gains made over the last 13 years in health, education, and gender remained a priority, it said, pledging to partner with Afghanistan in its ongoing efforts to bolster economic growth, strengthen the rule of law and fight corruption. Proposing $1.027 billion for Afghanistan under OCO’s Economic Support Fund, the State Department said this prioritised areas critical to sustaining gains of the last decade and objectives of the government while continuing to lay the foundation for sustained economic, political, and social sector development. Civilian assistance programmes would focus increasingly on long-term development and the critical task of making Afghanistan more self-reliant and sustainable, it said. “Support from the United States will remain critical, as Afghanistan will continue to be tested by economic and governance challenges as well as threats to stability posed by violent extremism,” the State Department said, proposing $185 million for meeting the narcotics challenge. “Funding will continue to promote Afghan ownership by increasing the percentage of Afghans employed by our justice, corrections and counternarcotics programmes,” it concluded.