Afghanistan’s acting finance minister said on Sunday that up to 40 percent of the country’s customs revenue is being embezzled, adding this prevents the country from becoming self-sufficient.
Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, the acting minister, said while handing over the draft budget for the next fiscal year that Afghanistan will be self-reliant if revenue generated through customs taxes is regulated.
“Unfortunately up to 40 percent of the country’s revenue is being embezzled. We are trying to prevent corruption by installing scanners,” said Arghandiwal.
Some members of the Meshrano Jirga, (Upper House of Parliament) said government is not willing to implement their commitments and is not focused on big projects.
“The commitments that government make are not implemented yet, they are lying. Development projects are not being implemented,” said Gul Ahmad Azami, a senator.
On the other hand, Abdul Hadi Muslimyar, leader of the Meshrano Jirga, said they will complete their review of the draft soon in the near future.
“We will complete our review about the draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year before taking a decision about the budget in parliament,” said Muslimyar.
This comes after Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) said earlier that between 50 percent and 70 percent of state revenue is being embezzled because of wide-spread corruption in the Afghan government
Public Works on track with new road linking Badakhshan to China
The Ministry of Public works said Tuesday that construction of a road, connecting Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province to China, is underway and 15 percent of the project has been completed.
The Ministry said in a statement, the construction of a 49.7km unpaved road has started from Bozhai Gonbad Khord Pamir in Badakhshan and extends to the end of the Wakhan corridor close to the border with China.
The Ministry stated that the project is part of the government’s future plan for boosting regional transit that “brings Afghanistan steps closer to regional connectivity and economic policy.”
The project, at a cost of more than 369 million AFN, will be funded by the government, the statement said.
According to the statement, the impassable mountainous Wakhan corridor, which is a narrow strip of territory in Badakhshan province that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan and Kashmir, would be connected to China via the road.
The Ministry of Public Works stated that the road, which will eventually be paved, will be the Wakhan Route and will “not only be a shortcut between China and Afghanistan…but will also help tourists reach Wakhan National Park.”
Historically, Badakhshan is a region comprising parts of what is now north-eastern Afghanistan, eastern Tajikistan, and the Tashkurgan county in China. However, the name is retained by Afghanistan in Badakhshan Province.
Located in northeastern Afghanistan, Badakhshan is bordered by Tajikistan, Pakistan and China.
Most of the province is occupied by the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges.
Once Badakhshan was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road trading path but the Wakhan corridor has been closed to regular traffic for over a century as there is no modern road.
There is a rough track for a few dozen kilometers that was built in the 1960s, but for much of the way, to the Chinese border, there are only rough paths.
The remoteness of the region has meant that, despite the long-running wars of Afghanistan since the late 1970s, the region has remained virtually untouched by conflict and many locals, who are mostly composed of ethnic Pamir and Kyrgyz, are not aware of wars in the country.
Strawberry cultivation increases in Herat
Herat’s Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock says that due to favorable weather conditions and the interest of farmers, the cultivation of strawberries in this province has flourished and that currently over 100 hectares is being used to grow this popular fruit.
Bashir Ahmad Ahmadi, acting head of Herat’s agriculture department, said that with the increase in cultivated areas, it is expected that the strawberry yield in the province will exceed 150 metric tons this year.
Ahmadi says that strawberries are grown in both greenhouses and outdoors, but many farmers are now growing them in greenhouses.
Herate currently has the most strawberry farms in the country.
Strawberries, which are a good source of Vitamin C, are a sought after fruit among Afghans and currently sell for between 100 and 120 Afghanis per kilogram on local markets.
“Our production is growing every year, and this has made me more interested in increasing the cultivation of this crop,” said Reza Dehqan, head of the Paliz Sabz strawberry farm in Herat.
Dehqan has cultivated 20 hectares of land in two ways, greenhouses and open fields, and has created job opportunities for 30 people, many of whom are women.
Dehqan owns one of the largest strawberry farms in the country, from which 37% of Herat strawberries are obtained.
He said that in addition to Herat, he sells his strawberries in Nimroz, Ghazni, Farah, Kandahar and Badghis provinces. Interest in strawberries has in turn grown in these provinces, he said.
This sector has also meanwhile attracted women and most strawberry farms in Herat employ them.
“We are ten women harvesting and packing in this greenhouse, which has improved our living conditions,” said Maryam, who works on a strawberry farm in Enjil district.
“Strawberries are a lucrative crop,” says Zarghoneh, another farmer.
Afghanistan resumes export of talc stone from Nangarhar
Afghanistan has resumed the export of talc stone from a key mine in the country’s eastern province of Nangarhar, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said on Sunday.
The ministry said in a statement that the process of exporting talc stone resumed recently.
“In the last two months, thousands of tons of talc stone have been exported from Nangarhar province, collecting nearly 100 million afghanis (about $1.3 million),” the statement read.
The export of the talc stone, which is used in many industries, including paper making, plastic, paint and coating, rubber, electric cable, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, dusting powder for babies and ceramics, stopped late last year.
According to the ministry, 37 talc stone processing factories operate in Nangarhar, providing employment for 5,000 people.
Most of the processed talc stone is exported to India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Germany, the statement read.
The talc stone mines also exist in Kandahar, Kabul, Wardak, Logar, Kunar, Khost, Kapisa, and Parwan provinces.
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