If Afghanistan does not do more to combat corruption in its financial sector by June, the country risks being “blacklisted” by an inter-governmental task force — which the U.S. watchdog for Afghan reconstruction said would would be “devastating” for the sector and the overall economy.
In the most dangerous country in the world for aid workers and where armed insurgents still control large swathes of territory, the reconstruction effort's number one enemy should be corruption, John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said at an Atlantic Council event on Thursday.
Attracting and maintaining foreign investment is vital to sustaining Afghanistan's economy as U.S. assistance funding — which has totalled over $102 billion so far — declines.
That’s why Sopko criticized U.S. government agencies for failing to produce a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy, claiming that unless corruption is specifically targeted and combated it could be the "spoiler" that "will jeopardize every gain we have made over the last 12 years."
Corruption in Afghanistan's financial sector, he explained, presents a particular threat to the country's ability to attract foreign investment: "Failure to sufficiently reform and regulate the banking sector is putting the country's immediate future development at risk.”