Business – Ariana News Bringing Afghan News to the World Fri, 18 Jan 2019 13:24:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Price of Internet To Be Reduced by 50 Percent Within Month: MCIT Sun, 13 Jan 2019 13:27:16 +0000

The Ministry of Telecommunication and Information (MCIT) says within a month the price of internet services will be reduced by 50 percent in the country.

 MCIT said that Afghanistan has got membership of the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) – a major regional initiative aimed at creation of transitional fiber optic.

Sayer Zaland, a spokesman of MCIT, said the practical work on TASIM project has been kicked off and that they are due to sign MoUs with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in this regard.

“The revenues will be increased and we will have access to high-quality internet services. In addition, the price of the internet will be significantly decreased in the country,” he said.

The official added that at the end of next month, the contracts with relevant stakeholders will be finalized and that up to 50 percent discount would be considered to the price of internet services.  

Balkh – Istanbul Air Corridor Inaugurated Wed, 09 Jan 2019 12:58:46 +0000 Balkh – Istanbul air corridor, linking Afghanistan with European countries via Turkey, inaugurated on Wednesday.

The inauguration ceremony was kicked off in Mawlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi International Airport in Mazar-i-Sharif City.

The first flight with two tons of raisins and three tons of dried berries took off to London.

According to the officials, the Afghan government air corridor program has exported more than $100 million worth of Afghan goods to global markets during the last one year.

In June 2017, the Afghan government launched the Afghanistan – India Air Corridor as a pilot project to facilitate trade between Kabul and New Delhi via air freight.

Following the success of the first air corridor project, the Afghan government expanded it to several other countries, framing it as “National Air Corridor Program”.

By Hesamuddin Hesam

Afghan Currency Loses Value By Half in Paktia Sat, 05 Jan 2019 14:50:47 +0000

Afghan currency which is double in value against Pakistani rupee, being exchanged at the same value in business transactions in eastern Paktia province of Afghanistan.

Local residents said that despite the authorities have imposed restrictions on the usage of Pakistani rupees, the foreign currency still being widely used in the province.

Currently, one thousand Pakistani rupees can be exchanged with 536 Afghanis in the markets; however, local residents said that both currencies have the same value when purchasing the foodstuff in Paktia province.

They said this situation makes them do their transaction in Pakistani currency.

The provincial governor Shamim Katawazai, meanwhile, said that they will soon address the issue by forming a price list for the items in the local markets.

This comes as most of the border provinces in Afghanistan have been under the economic and cultural influence of neighboring countries including Paktia province which located near the Pakistan border in the eastern part of the country.  

 Parliament Approves National Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 Mon, 31 Dec 2018 13:02:04 +0000

The Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the Parliament) on Monday approved the national budget for the fiscal year 2019 with a total outlay of 399 billion Afghanis.

The budget plan for the solar year 1398 includes 124 billion Afghanis for development in various sectors including information technology, agriculture, transit routes, and power generation.

The national budget for 2019 raised up to 99 billion Afghanis from a total of 377 billion Afghans in previous year.

Though the Lower House unanimously approved the 2019 national budget today, some lawmakers criticized the government over what they said failure to maintain a balance for spending the development budget.

“The share of Kochi sect is less in the budget and major projects have been considered based on favoritism in some provinces,” said MP Habib Afghan, representing Kochi people in Wolesi Jirga.

However, Mohammad Azim Mohseni, head of parliament’s budget commission said that necessary reforms have been brought into the coming year’s national budget so that issues in the development projects could be solved.

According to the Finance Ministry, from a total of 399 billion Afghanis national budget proposal, half of them will be paid for by the domestic revenue.

Turkey to Buy 300Kg of Afghan Saffron Sun, 30 Dec 2018 12:35:00 +0000

The Ministry of Agriculture says the export of Afghan Saffron to markets in abroad has increased, stressing that Turkey is ready to buy 300 kilograms of saffron from Afghanistan.

“Several countries have shown willingness to buy Afghan saffron including Turkey which is set to buy about 300kg of the saffron from Afghanistan,” said Akbar Rustami, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL).  

Months earlier, the Afghan government has banned the import of saffron to encourage domestic production. The sanction was imposed as the government believes importing and smuggling of saffron from abroad was a major hurdle for saffron development program in the country.

 According to the Ministry of Agriculture, importing saffron was a reason for farmers’ lack of interest to grow the spice.

Some Afghan traders urged the government to make further efforts to facilitate markets for saffron.

“The decrease in exports of Saffron would lead to a drop in the price of the valuable crop,” said Mohammad Shabir Bashiri, CEO of the Afghanistan Industries, Mines and Investments High Council.

Saffron production in Afghanistan, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, has been on a constant rise over the past few years. Currently, Afghan saffron is being exported to the United Arab Emirates, India, and the United States.

MoT, MCIT Ministers Survive Parliament Impeachment Wed, 26 Dec 2018 14:17:50 +0000 Afghan parliamentarians on Wednesday impeached two ministers for their failure to spend their development budget.

But at the end of the session, both ministers secured votes of confidence to continue their jobs.

During the session, the Transport Minister Mohammad Hamid Tahmasi and the Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Shahzad Gul Aryobi responded to the questions raised by lawmakers.

At the beginning of the session, Azim Muhseni Head of the Finance and Budget Commission of the Lower House of Parliament told MPs that the Ministry of Transport has spent only 24 percent of its development budget during the fiscal year 1396 while the Ministry of Telecommunication has spent 59 percent.

Both Ministers stated that lack of authority to reject or amend a number of projects, long procurement processes and complexity of some projects are the main reasons why they haven’t spend their development projects satisfactorily.

The Lawmakers have decided to impeach those ministers who have spent less than 70 percent of their development budgets.

During the week, parliamentarians impeached the Public Works Minister Yama Yari, Justice Minister Abdul Basir Anwar, and the Counter Narcotics Minister Salamat Azimi while at the end all secured confidence votes.

Despite Reforms Next Year’s National Budget at Risk of Misuse: IWA Sun, 23 Dec 2018 14:41:03 +0000

The Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) on Sunday said that the next fiscal year’s national budget is at risk of misuse by the government and some influential figures, asserting that if the budget was approved by parliament it will have harmful consequences on development projects in the country.

Syed Ikram Afzali, the head of IWA said that despite reforms in the process, the national budget is at risk of misuse by the government and powerful men. “The government has failed to transform the budget into a national process so that the people could have a clear voice in the budgeting process.”

The watchdog stressed that some high-ranking figures close to the president are promising implementation of major development projects in many provinces without having the budgetary document.

“In last two months, our findings show that some high-ranking authorities of the president’s office have had traveled to provinces, where they pledged people of new development projects beyond a procurement process and budget plan which is disrespectful to the government structure,” said Naser Timory, a researcher of IWA.

The members of the IWA noted that the parliament should not take immediate decision regarding the next year’s national budget.

The presidential palace did not comment in this regard yet.

In October, the cabinet has approved in principle the national budget for the fiscal year 2019, allocating 399 billion Afghanis in the proposal, from which half of them will be paid for by domestic revenue.

Afghanistan Sends First Set of Cargo Trucks to Europe via Lapis Lazuli Route Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:23:38 +0000

The first set of Afghanistan’s cargo trucks left for Europe through Lapis Lazuli route on Thursday.

The trucks will cross Torghondi port in Herat into Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and eventually will reach to Europe after crossing Georgia and Turkey.

Inaugurating the Lapis Lazuli corridor on Thursday in western Herat province, President Ghani said the route will connect Afghanistan to South Asia, Central Asia and to Europe.

At the inauguration ceremony of the corridor,  high-ranking officials of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia were also present.

At the event, Hamid Tahmasi, Afghan Minister of Transport said that the Lapis Lazuli route will facilitate landlocked Afghanistan in exporting its commercial products to European markets and that will develop the Afghan economy.

He stressed that the corridor will reduce the trade gap between Afghanistan and Europe and that will decrease the cost of imports and exports in the country.

The Lapis Lazuli corridor agreement was signed on November last year by five nations in Turkmenistan marking an important milestone in the collective efforts towards deepening connectivity and enhancing trade in the region.

Gov’t Revenue Increases By 14 Percent Compared to Last Year: MoF Sun, 02 Dec 2018 14:54:37 +0000

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Sunday said that the government revenue has reached 173 billion Afghanis in the current solar year which shows an increase of 14 percent compared to last year.

Addressing a press conference on the outcomes of the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, Shamruz Masjidi, Spokesman of the Finance Ministry said that the summit was helpful for Afghanistan where the European Union has pledged of providing the war-torn country with a financial package of 474 million euros ($535 million).

He said more than €311 million if the aid package will be allocated to support the government in pursuing its reform agenda, €80 million to improve the health and nutrition of the population, €15.5 million to support the coming elections and €37 million to reinforce EU assistance to Afghanistan in addressing migration and forced displacement challenges.

Separately, the official said that the government revenue has increased by 14 percent in the current year compared to last year.

“The national revenue has reached to 173 billion Afghanis in 1397 solar year which shows an increase of 14 percent compared to last year,” Shamruz said, adding that last year the government was 152 billion Afghans.

Some economic analysts, however, said that revenues were being mostly gained through government taxes, adding that the situation has caused the price of foodstuff to get raise in the markets and challenge the manufacturing factories in the county.

US Exempts Chabahar Port from Sanctions in Support of Afghanistan Wed, 07 Nov 2018 13:14:21 +0000 The United States has exempted the Chabahar port along with an attached railway project and Iranian petroleum shipments to Afghanistan after re-imposing sanctions on Tehran.

“After extensive consideration, the United States has provided an exception under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act to allow Afghanistan to continue to import petroleum products from Iran and shipment of non-sanctionable goods through Chabahar Port for Afghanistan,” U.S. Ambassador in Kabul, John R. Bass, said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Economy (MoEC) praised Washington move toward Afghanistan.

“Any step for enhancing regional cooperation can benefit Afghanistan’s and the region economy, so we welcome this initiative,” MoEC Spokesman, Suhrab Bahman, told Ariana News.

Chabahar port was inaugurated last year in the Indian Ocean. It enables India to trade with Central Asia and Africa and bypass rival Pakistan.

Afghanistan Ranked 167th in Ease of Doing Business Thu, 01 Nov 2018 06:23:19 +0000 With five reforms in the past year, Afghanistan has improved its position from 183rd to 167th position in the global ease of doing business rankings, the World Bank said in its latest annual report on Wednesday.

“Improving the business environment is essential for Afghanistan to stimulate domestic investment and create jobs. Given the exceptional challenges of conflict and violence in the country, the government’s resolve to improve the business climate for private enterprise is doubly commendable,” Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan quoted saying,” We look forward to continuing to record Afghanistan’s successes in year to come.”

Meanwhile, the Office of Senior Economic Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement that Afghanistan has also been selected as one of the top reformers in the world in the latest World Bank Doing Business Report.

In 2014, at the London Conference, Afghanistan committed to bringing extensive reforms in the field of good governance and service delivery, including reforms in the World Bank’s Doing Business Indicators (DBI).

Since then, the government of Afghanistan has implemented reforms in doing business areas of starting a business, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency.

Ten indicators included in the World Bank Doing Business report are: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.

Cabinet Approves in Principle 2019 Budget Fri, 26 Oct 2018 10:05:05 +0000

The Cabinet meeting, chaired by President Ashraf Ghani has approved in principle the national budget for the fiscal year 2019.

From a total of 399 billion Afghanis national budget proposal, half of them will be paid for by Afghanistan’s domestic revenue.

“Out of the total budget AFN124 billion outlay is allocated for development in various sectors including Information Technology, agriculture, transit routes, and power generation,” the Presidential Palace said in a statement.  

The national budget rose from  377 billion Afghans in previous year to 99 billion Afghanis in the coming fiscal year.

World Bank to Provide $403 million To Support Education, Rural Women in Afghanistan Tue, 23 Oct 2018 14:54:05 +0000 The World Bank will provide $403 million to support education and rural women in Afghanistan.

The agreements were signed on Tuesday by Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, the Acting Minister of Finance and Chief Advisor on Infrastructure and Technology to the President, and Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan in presence of Ministers of Education, Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Higher Education and Deputy Women’s Affairs Minister.

“Investing in women empowerment and education programs sets the direct path towards gender equality, poverty reduction, economic growth and higher income,” the Acting Minister of Finance Humayoun Qayoumi said.

 “Women are remarkable part of the society; empowering them will enormously contribute to economic and social advancement. I am thankful to our ARTF partners and the Global Partnership for Education for their usual cooperation to our development efforts in Afghanistan,” he added.

The largest part of the package, $298 million will be allocated to improve education, $100 million to Women’s Economic Empowerment Rural Development Project and the remaining $5 million grant to the existing $50 million grant Higher Education Development Project.

“Investing in the next generation of Afghans, ensuring that boys and especially girls in all parts of the country have access to a quality education, and unlocking the latent potential of Afghanistan’s women through women’s economic empowerment programs, are probably the two most important initiatives we could support to secure a better future for Afghanistan,” said Shubham Chaudhuri “I am grateful that our ARTF partners and the Global Partnership for Education share this commitment and have contributed to the financing package we signed today.”

The Acting Minister of Education Mirwais, meanwhile, said that 1.7 million Afghan children is deprived of education and that the package could benefit these children in this regard.

“By signing this agreement, important deeds will be done for improving quality of education,” Balkhi said while calling the EQRA project vital.

“ The Ministry of Education has finalized al the practical plans and the program will be completed in due time and in accordance with the specified budget, which in any case will have positive impacts on the education system of the country,” he added.

Central Bank Takes New Measures against Dollar Smuggling Sun, 07 Oct 2018 13:43:07 +0000

Da Afghanistan Bank (Central Bank) says it has taken new measures against smuggling of foreign currencies particularly dollar to Iran and other neighboring countries.

Following the sharp rise in the value of US dollar against Afghan currency in the market and concerns of the citizens in this regard, the Central Bank says the security forces have arrested dozens of individuals on charges of smuggling USD.

DAB stresses that the smuggling of the dollar is the main reason behind the decline of Afghani against USD, adding that has taken measures at borders to prevent the outflow of the dollar to neighboring countries.

“A plan has been made with relevant institutions to prevent smuggling. In one of the ports several smugglers have been arrested,” said Head of Central Bank Khalil Sediq.

Some economic analysts believe banking policies should be reviewed in order to have control over the value of foreign currencies.

This comes as on Sunday one dollar was exchanged with 76 AFN at Sarai Shahzada market – the biggest money market in the country.

Contracts for Extraction of Badakhshan Gold Mines, Balkhab Copper Mine Signed Sat, 06 Oct 2018 12:59:04 +0000 The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) has signed the extraction contract of Badakhshan’s gold mines and Sar-e Pul’s Balkhab copper mine with two companies.

According to MoMP officials, the two companies will invest $ 87 million on these projects.

However, the Mining Watch Afghanistan (MWA) calls the signing of the contracts are due to political decisions and illegal international pressures.

The extraction work of Badakhshan gold mines is being jointly undertaken by Turkish and Afghan companies and an English company implements the Balkhab copper mine in Sare Pul.

A researcher of Afghanistan Integrity Watch declared that the government has violated the law with its decision.

In 2012, two companies won bidding for Badakhshan gold mines and Balkhab’s copper mine which the former minister of urban was the main stakeholder.

Due to some legal problems and interest contrasts, the contracts faced delay and then they were signed with the mentioned companies after Sayeed Sadat Mansour Naderi resigned from his position as the minister of urban and development.

Construction Work of Iron Melting Factory Kicks off in Kabul, Worth $20 Million Tue, 02 Oct 2018 14:39:42 +0000

Government officials and businessmen laid the foundation stone for the construction of an Iron melting factory in Kabul on Tuesday which worth $20 million.

Khan Mohammad Wardak, the owner of the manufacturing factory said that the factory will begin operation next year.  “We have great capacity and can make major economic activities in the future,” he said.

The Iron melting factory is expected to create job opportunities to at least 2,000 people. 

The first Deputy to CEO Khan Mohammad, meanwhile, said that a lot of challenges in front of investors in the country. But he said the government has taken major economic plans in this regard.

Following the matter, the Minister of Commerce and Industries Humayoun Rasa said that that rooms for investment are rising in the country.

“Our need is about 300 thousand tons of goods annually and we are hopeful of preventing 230-250 million equivalent products being imported in the country,” Rasa said.

“We must accept this truth that investment in Afghanistan needs courage and compassion,’ said Nargis Nehan, Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum. 

Afghanistan Welcomes U.S.’s Move to Review Iran Sanctions on Chabahar Port Sat, 29 Sep 2018 14:44:33 +0000

The U.S. will take into consideration the impact of American sanctions against Tehran on Chabahar port in Iran that provides a surface link between India and Afghanistan.

“When it comes to Chabahar, we are in the process of reviewing the imposition of sanctions,” Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, told IANS in an interview as cited by NDTV.

“So that process (of review) is underway and we take India’s concerns and interest in being able to expand exports to Afghanistan and to increase Afghanistan exports to India, very seriously.

“As we look at the reinforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the sanctions, we will, I think carefully, evaluate the impact that it could have, for instance on Afghanistan,” Wells added.

The Ministry of Transport said that investment drive is progressing fast on the port from Iran, Afghanistan, and India.

The implementation plan of Chabahar port agreement has been completed and we are ready to provide the necessary facilities to Afghan traders at the port,” Spokesman of the Transport and Aviation Ministry Hekmatullah Qawanj told Ariana News.

According to the estimation of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries, currently, more than $150 million have been invested in transport and forming factories in Chabahar port by 60 Afghan traders.

“Some of the investments which have been made on the port are very important for all of the three countries,” said Tawfiq Dawari, deputy head of ACCI. “When the port excluded [from Iran sanctions], Afghanistan will have trade relations with these countries and it will have an impact on the exports as well as paving ground for more investment,”

Chabahar port is providing Afghanistan with vital direct sea access, which the country hopes will improve its trade prospects. Crucially, exporting goods to countries such as India will allow Afghanistan to reduce its dependence on Pakistan.

Afghanistan Opens Air Cargo Corridors with European Union Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:32:13 +0000 Afghanistan formally inaugurated air cargo corridors with Europe, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

The inauguration was marked at a ceremony at Kabul airport that was attended by ministers and foreign diplomats.

The first flight of Kabul-Europe air cargo will be initiated through Turkish airline carrying 20 tons of goods to export 8.5 tons goods to Italy and 12 tons of wool to Finland.

The deputy head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Khan Jan Alkozay called the opening of Kabul-Europe air cargo a big achievement in Afghanistan trade sector.

“We commit to take major steps in opening air cargos and ground routes,” Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahim Zai, financial deputy of the Ministry Commerce said.

European officials are said to believe that the opening of Kabul-Europe air cargo is a big opportunity for Afghan traders which the vast European market has opened to them.

“It is a good news. Alongside strengthening trade relations, Europe is keen to buy Afghan agricultural quality products. There is no doubt that this trend is dramatically expanding because it is a mutual interest,” EU ambassador to Kabul added.

Meanwhile, in a recent breakthrough Kabul-Kolkata air cargo to commence today. After the successive operations of Kabul-Delhi, Kabul-Mumbai and Kabul-Amritsar air corridor programme, Afghanistan is trying to expand its connectivity to the Indian cities for exporting fresh and dried fruits and other goods and most likely it will be connecting to Hyderabad and Chennai in the near future.

Rockets Hit Ghazni During President’s Visit Thu, 27 Sep 2018 13:13:26 +0000 Multiple rockets hit the Ghazni city on Thursday, while President Ashraf Ghani was there for a visit to review the situation of the province.

At least two rockets landed within 300 meters of the governor’s compound where President Ghani was meeting local officials, while a third struck further off, local officials said.

First Lady Rula Ghani, Eng. Mohammad Khan, Dr. Rasoul Talib and several other officials are accompanying the president during his visit to Ghazni.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault and No one was killed or wounded in the latest attack.

According to the statement released by the Presidential Palace, President Ghani would also participate in a major gathering during his visit to the province.

Afghan Economy’s Growth Rate Declined Compared to Last Fiscal Year Sun, 23 Sep 2018 12:34:40 +0000

Afghanistan’s economic growth will reach 2.4 percent in the current Fiscal Year which shows a slight decline compared to last Fiscal Year, the Ministry of Economy said Sunday.

According to the Ministry of Economy, the economic growth was estimated at 1.3 percent in 2015 (FY), 2.4 percent in 2016 (FY) and 2.6 percent in 2017 (FY). However, in the current Fiscal Year, the figure will decrease up to 0.2 percent.

The Ministry of Economy reasoning insecurity, drought, and elections behind the decline rate of the economic growth.

“The growth rate is being less compared to last year. Insecurity, drought, and elections are the issues which challenged the stability of the economic growth,” said Sohrab Bahman, Spokesman for the Ministry of Economy. “The economic growth was expected up to 3.0 percent this year but, will have 2.4 percent.”

However, Azarakhsh Hafizi, president of ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industries said that wrong policies of the government in last years have harmed the economy. He stressed that insecurity, weakness in the government, and lack of having effective economic strategies have caused the economic growth to be declined.

Some economic analysts believe that if the government does not increase the domestic products and does not find markets for the export of the products in the region, the economy will not grow.