Experts Distressed About Survey Results

The findings of the fourth survey in a series of public approval polls conducted by ATR Consulting and TOLOnews indicates Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s popularity has continued to decline, with a decrease of 5.7 percent from results published in May.

In response to the survey, the Afghan Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD) has called the rating distressing and says that the lack of sustainable economic development could be the main reason for the drop off in approval.

Based on the survey’s findings, which were released on Sunday, slightly less than 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population is “very satisfied” with the performance of Ghani since he assumed office last year in September – this is down from 25.5 percent in May.

Approximately one person out of five – or 22.8 percent – is “moderately satisfied” with Ghani’s performance, the report said.

But the largest percentage of the population – 52.1 percent – is “not satisfied at all” with Ghani’s government, which came into power after a disputed election with rival Abdullah Abdullah, who then became Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer.

Just six percent of respondents refrained from commentating or had no opinion on the matter.

The first survey in the series’ installment was published in November 2014. At that time, 59.9 percent of respondents were “very satisfied” with Ghani’s performance.

MoLSAMD has called the rating distressing and says that the lack of sustainable economic development could be the main reason for the drop off in approval.

“The activities of various international financial institutions in the country have declined compared to recent years and some of them have terminated completely,” spokesman for the ministry Ali Eftekhari said. “This has made us vulnerable, because work has not been done on economic infrastructure.”

Officials at the Afghanistan Investment Supporting Agency (AISA) also believe the unfavorable survey results are the product of the country’s economic woes. According to them, the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, decline in new economic projects and commercial activities and deteriorating security have negatively impacted the domestic and international investment environment.

“This situation must end,” AISA chief Mohammad Qurban Haqjo told TOLOnews. “The government of Afghanistan has the potential to change the country’s economic condition, but for this purpose, the government needs to take firm steps and regain public trust and give assurances to the investors and facilitate them.”

Independent analysts have warned of worse consequences to come if Afghanistan’s economic situation does not improve. “If the government doesn’t take effective measures for poverty alleviation, this could lead to a flight of minds, capital and youth from the country and the continuation of the issue will further expand the mistrust of people in the government,” former AISA chief Ibrahim Shams said.

For everyday Afghans, the most immediate effect of the country’s economic downturn has been the lack of employment opportunities. “People are on the run, because the economic situation deteriorates each day and there are no jobs,” a Kabul resident named Bahadur told TOLOnews.

According to MoLSAMD statistics, Afghanistan currently has fourteen million people of working age, but only two million of them are fully employed. Part of the reason for this startling gulf is that about half of the working age population includes women who do not work for a variety of social, cultural and religious reasons.

To watch the whole report, click here:

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