Salaam Alaikum. Minister Shahrani, Governor Shirzai, Member of Parliament Mrs. Safie Sediqi, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the United States Government I am honored to be a part of this important event celebrating the launch of the Afghanistan Central Business Registry branch office in Jalalabad City.
While I’ve only recently arrived in Afghanistan to oversee and coordinate all U.S. non-military assistance here, I was closely involved in Afghan reconstruction and development issues during my earlier work in Washington as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. So I am very, very pleased to be here with you today.
Over the past weeks, I have met many industrious businesspeople who are doing their part to contribute to the economic growth and stability of their country. Despite years of war, the business community has emerged as a modern, successful proponent of a prosperous, democratic Afghanistan.
That is why I am glad to celebrate the opening of this branch office in Jalalabad. It will allow entrepreneurs in eastern Afghanistan to quickly and easily register their businesses in one place for one low fee.
The opening of this provincial branch follows the successful launch of the Afghanistan Central Business Registry in Kabul last September. The U.S. Government partnered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to establish a one-stop-shop shop for business registration. Over 5,000 new businesses have registered since its launch.
The Afghanistan Central Business Registry cuts the bureaucratic red tape. Now, business owners can fill out one simple form to register, obtain a tax identification number, and publish their business specifications in the Official Gazette.
In Kabul, registration time has decreased from several days to approximately two hours; and the single, flat registration fee of 500 Afghanis (US$ 10) substantially diminishes opportunities for corruption. Here in Jalalabad, the ACBR will reduce the registration time from fifteen days to just two hours, and already, nearly 40 businesses have legally registered.
This simplified process is particularly helpful for small and medium businesses that were previously unable to afford or navigate the business registration process. Small and medium businesses are the backbone of economic growth and generate the bulk of new employment in many developing economies. So I am glad that Afghanistan is creating institutions that allow such businesses to legally register and thrive.
Reduced fees and faster registration will make it easier for businesses to access the benefits of being legally registered, including qualification for bank loans, expedited customs clearance, legal protections, and the ability to obtain trader and investment licensing.
I am pleased to represent the U.S. government today to witness the ACBR’s branch opening in Jalalabad province, the first outside of the capital city. The administration of President Barack Obama strongly supports this kind of business facilitation that contributes to sustainable economic growth, upheld by an accountable Afghan Government that provides security, justice, and key services for its citizens. Improving the access of Afghan businesses to government service contributes directly to our shared development goals for this nation and, in the future, I hope to see more ACBR branches in Afghanistan’s provinces, as well as web-based registration for new businesses.
This important achievement was made possible by the strong partnership between the United States of America and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and I would like to acknowledge Minister of Commerce and Industry Shahrani’s strong and capable leadership in this combined effort.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is taking step like this to help create the kind of welcoming investment climate that encourages new domestic and foreign investment. This is the appropriate role of government, acting as a facilitator and regulator. But, as we see around the world, it is the dynamism and creativity of the private sector that will drive Afghanistan’s growth, job creation and economic development. And so I also want to acknowledge the businessmen who already have and who will register at this ACBR branch. You are making an extremely important contribution to Afghanistan’s future prosperity.
Again, The United States is proud to support the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Jalalabad province in removing obstacles to doing business and creating a healthy business environment in Afghanistan. Thank you.