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Afghanistan customs revenue lost to ’embezzlement’

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Although taxpayers pay customs duties at the Afghan customs, not all of the revenue being collected in the Afghan government’s account, local officials said.

The ports of Torkham in Nangarhar, Islam Qala in Herat, Hairatan in Balkh, Aqina in Faryab, Spin Boldak in Kandahar, Shirkhan Bandar in Kunduz, Angur Ada in Paktika and several other ports in the north and south of the country have witnessed widespread corruption.

In these ports, although custom fees are paid by taxpayers, little money is raised in government reserves, most of the ports are said to be in the hands of gunmen and the powerful.

Local officials in the provinces where the ports are located say that corruption in customs has recently peaked.

On the other hand, the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan criticizes the lack of administrative reforms, adding that unreasonable appointments have increased corruption in the country’s customs and that the government has not yet taken any steps to reform the process. According to the head of the institution, the current situation has led to organized corruption in customs.

The Ministry of Finance also promises to bring transparency to the country’s customs.

Finance Ministry spokesman Shamrooz Khan Masjidi said customs revenues are being closely monitored to prevent corruption.

Earlier, the governor of Herat said that Islam Qala’s revenue was being looted by mafia gangs and the warlords. According to economists, this is the case in most of the country’s customs.

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India to build Shahtoot dam in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2020)

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar announced on Tuesday at the Geneva Conference 2020 that his country will build a new dam to provide Kabul residents with safe drinking water.

Addressing delegates virtually, Jaishankar said the Shahtoot dam will help supply Kabul residents with water.

“I am happy to announce today an agreement with Afghanistan for building the Shahtoot dam which will provide safe drinking water to two million Kabul residents.

He also said India will launch phase four of a high impact community development program in Afghanistan, which includes around 150 projects worth $80 million dollars.

He stated India has invested heavily in peace and development in Afghanistan but said his country calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

“We also believe that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.”

A feasibility study for the dam was reportedly finalized in 2012 and the estimated cost will be around $236 million.

This dam would also allow for irrigation systems to cover 4,000 hectares of land in the Charasiab and Khairabad districts of Kabul province.

Once complete, officials said the dam will hold 146 million cubic meters of potable water for two million people in Kabul and irrigation water for over 4,000 hectares of land.

India has played a major role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime and has invested over $2 billion in various reconstruction and infrastructure projects.

In 2016, Ghani and Indian Prime Minister inaugurated the Indian-funded “Friendship Dam” in Heart Province, which can also irrigate over 80,000 hectares of land and provide electricity to thousands of homes in the western Afghan province of Herat.

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Uzbekistan to resume direct flights to Afghanistan in January

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(Last Updated On: November 17, 2020)

A presidential decree announced on Monday that Uzbekistan plans to increase two-way trade with Afghanistan to $2 billion by 2023 and resume direct flights between the two countries starting in 2021.

According to media reports, direct flights will be launched in January between Tashkent and Kabul and Tashkent and Mazar-e-Sharif.

In a presidential decree it was stated that Uzbekistan envisages the acceleration of projects on the extension of existing railway and power transmission lines to Afghanistan, and increasing volume of transit goods by simplifying customs procedures on the borders.

Uzbekistan also plans to reduce the prices of key commodities such as cement, iron, liquefied gas, flour, wheat, eggs and vegetable oil exported to Afghanistan.

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Kabul, Tehran hold 5th round of strategic cooperation talks

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(Last Updated On: November 17, 2020)

Afghanistan and Iran have held the fifth round of negotiations on the drawing up of a comprehensive document for strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Iranian media reports stated the talks were held in Tehran between an Iranian delegation and an Afghan delegations and were co-chaired by Mirwais Nab, the Afghan deputy foreign minister and his counterpart Seyyed Abbas Araqchi.

On Sunday, Araqchi said he was happy with the progress made in this round of negotiations, and expressed hope that the comprehensive document for Iran-Afghanistan strategic cooperation will soon be prepared to be signed by the presidents of the two countries.

The document outlines a long-term cooperation plan between the two countries in political, security, economic and cultural areas as well as issues related to both countries’ expats and Afghanistan’s refugees, as well as the issue of water.

In a separate meeting prior to the talks, Araqchi and Nab had already highlighted the importance of finalizing the cooperation document as soon as possible.

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