Business – Ariana News Bringing Afghan News to the World Tue, 21 May 2019 13:14:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Afghanistan Cancels Operating License of Iran’s Arian Bank Mon, 20 May 2019 12:38:19 +0000 Afghanistan’s Central Bank canceled the license of the Arian Bank, an Iranian bank based in the capital Kabul with a branch in Herat province.

According to the officials, Arian Bank has failed to meet Afghan financial regulations and had no role in Afghanistan’s economic development.

“Arian Bank is registered with the name of an Afghan but an Iranian national owns the bank. The High Council of Afghanistan’s Central Bank canceled its license due to several reasons,” said Aimal Ashur, Spokesman of Central Bank of Afghanistan.

He added that the bank’s denial to provide any loans to Afghan entrepreneurs was the main reason behind the cancellation of its license. The bank is also accused of money laundering.

Around two months ago, Afghanistan canceled the operating license of Pakistan’s Habib Bank, citing non-compliance of the bank with the banking laws of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) calls on the government to cancel the operating license of all banks that have no role in the economic development of Afghanistan.

“This bank had no financial transaction with the people and businessmen. It had no role in the trade and economy of Afghanistan,” said Nezamuddin Tajzada, the ACCI Deputy.

Arian Bank was established in Afghanistan in 2004 and received a commercial banking license from the Central Bank.

Telecommunication Minister Warns to Block Facebook in Afghanistan Sat, 13 Apr 2019 14:46:45 +0000 The Afghan telecommunications and information technology minister warned that Facebook will be blocked in Afghanistan during the next six months if it doesn’t follow the country’s regulations.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Minister Shahzad Gul Aryobi said that Facebook is being misused in Afghanistan, saying that creating accounts should be based on documents.

He also emphasized that all fake accounts should be blocked.

“I warn them to respect all regulations of Afghanistan. Registration must be based on documents. Now everyone can create accounts without revealing his/her identity,” Minister Aryobi said.

In addition, Minister Aryobi set a one-month deadline for Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) to fulfill its commitments and solve the problems of telecom companies customers.

Recently, Afghan activists launched a campaign against telecom robbery, asking telecommunication companies in Afghanistan for accountability and quality services.

Politicians, Warlords, Gov’t Officials Owe 4.5 Billion AFNs in Unpaid Electricity Bills Mon, 08 Apr 2019 13:48:07 +0000 A number of politicians, warlords, members of the National Assembly, and government officials owe 4.5 billion Afghanis in unpaid electricity bills to the Afghanistan power utility company – Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), an official said on Monday.

According to the authorities, the warlords and powerful figures have beaten the staff of DABS in many occasions after they were asked to pay dues.

Wahidullah Tawhedi, DABS Spokesman told Ariana News that these people are not committed to the national interest and are calling themselves “powerful”. He said that members of parliament, political and Jahadi figures, government officials and local commanders are among the indebted customers who are not paying their electricity consumption charges.

The official further asked the judicial and law enforcement units to increase their cooperation with the power utility company.

At the same time, an official in the Afghanistan Industrial Association (AIA) says that denial of warlords to pay their electricity bills have caused DABS to face many challenges.

“This is the money of the nation. The government must act against those who denies to pay the electricity bill,” said Sakhi Ahmad Payman, the Head of AIA.

MoU Signed for Badakhshan Power Transmission, Construction of Shiwa Dam Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:31:16 +0000

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Tuesday for the implementation of a power transmission project to northern Badakhshan province and construction of Shiwa Dam, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.

The MoU was signed between Mohammad Gul Khulmi, the acting minister of water and energy, Amanullah Ghalib head of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) and Representative of Agha Khan Fund for Economic Development.

The statement said that the purpose of the signing of MoU is to invest $631 million of Agha Khan Fund for Economic Development on the two projects.

The statement added that the contract duration has been considered for 30 years to address the issues of electricity in Badakhshan province.

According to the statement, the project would be implemented in several phases with each phase to be completed over a period of seven years.

UAE to Buy All Afghan Saffron, Establish Air Corridor with Afghanistan Mon, 18 Mar 2019 14:34:27 +0000

President Ashraf Ghani who was on a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, says Abu Dhabi is ready to buy all Afghan saffron and establish air corridor with Afghanistan.

Speaking to Afghan businessmen in Dubai, Ghani said that the UAE will import all saffron produced in Afghanistan this year.

“My job is to find markets for you, your job is to invest,” he told Afghan businesspersons, inviting them to invest in processing factories and trading among other fields.

 The president stressed that the Afghan government has eased bureaucracy for investment in Afghanistan and that the security institutions have started conducting operations to improve security for businesses and investors.

“Further, through land reforms the Afghan government has recovered several thousands of hectares of land in the past four and a half years, and to incentivize investment the government is willing to lease them to investors at a very cheap price,” Ghani said as quoted in a statement by the Presidential Palace.

The statement said that during the visit, multiple MoUs with were signed to bolstering bilateral ties and trade with UAE. The MoUs were signed in the fields of agriculture, culture, energy, mining, education, and sports.

According to the statement, the visit also focused on cooperating in the areas of trade, investment, and development, with both sides reaching an agreement on launching an air corridor between Afghanistan and UAE.

ADB Provides $30 Million for Reconstruction of Kabul-Kandahar Highway Sat, 09 Mar 2019 13:57:48 +0000

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has donated $30 million for reconstruction of Kabul-Kandahar highway, the Ministry of Public Works said on Saturday.

The provided funds will be spent on repairing of Kabul-Kandahar highway through the Ministry of Public Works.  The highway is being damaged due to conflicts, low quality of asphalt and poor preservation measures.

Mehdi Rohani, spokesman for the Public Works Ministry said that ADB has been one of the major donors of infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and that the reconstruction of Kabul-Kandahar highway is part of the ADB’s assistance to the war-torn country.

He stressed that ADB is providing about 60 to 70 percent of the budget of the companies involved in implementing the projects in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Dispatches Its First Shipment to India via Chahabar Sun, 24 Feb 2019 13:05:32 +0000

Afghanistan dispatched its first set of cargo trucks carrying 570 tons of export goods to India through Iran’s Chabahar Port on Sunday.

The shipment left for Chabahar from Zaranj, the capital of northwestern Nimroz province.

Inaugurating the first Afghan cargo in Zaranj City, President Ghani said that Afghanistan is transforming from an importing country to exporting one.

Ghani said that the country’s exports are currently $1billion and that will be increased to $2 billion next year.

The inauguration ceremony, Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan Ahmad Reza Bahrami said that Kabul-Tehran relation is in a better position and that Chabahar Port could be a “suitable” route for expanding trade ties in the region.

He said Chahabar Port would be expanded so that it could be a trade route for the region and Central Asia.

Separately,  President Ghani met with Nimruz provincial council members where he said that an elite unit from National Directorate of Security will be deployed to protect the route that leads to Chabahar from Nimruz to ensure safe flow of goods.

He also said that the people of Nimruz play a substantial role in guaranteeing export and import of goods from Afghanistan to Chabahar and beyond.

The president stressed that the government has launched multiple trade routes, now it was up to private investors to materialize its potentials. He reiterated that the government will continue to modernize agriculture for increased productivity.

Insecurity Halts 100 Projects Across the Country Sat, 09 Feb 2019 13:40:26 +0000

The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) says insecurity has affected development projects across the country and that among 6,000 projects 100 of them have not even begun.  

Isa Qudrat, the Deputy Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development said that efforts are underway to consult with the people who have challenged the projects and resolve the issue.

The Ministry, however, said that currently, 6,000 development projects were being implemented; among them, more than 100 projects have been completed which could serve seven million people in the country.

“The leadership of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry make efforts to pave the ground for economic growth, develop the rural areas and reduce the level of unemployment and hunger in the country,” said Mujib-ur-Rahman Karimi, the Minister of  Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

MRRD also said that the ministry has spent 97 percent of its development budget this year which through it has provided 3.6 million working days to 100 thousand workers in the country.

Pakistani Visa Can be Acquired with $200 in Kabul’s Black Markets Mon, 28 Jan 2019 14:30:34 +0000

Residents say they were lining up on daily bases at Pakistan embassy in Kabul to obtain visa but cannot acquire it easily unless they pay a bribe to relevant authorities.

They said obtaining a visa for a person, particularly ailing individuals, consumes a lot of time and some even fail to get visa in repeated attempts.

“I am sick and it has been six days since I have come to obtain a visa, but didn’t receive it yet. I have been asked to pay up to 200 or 300 USD in bribe to get the visa,” said Mohammad Aziz who is a resident of Wardak province. “I can’t afford to pay that sum, why this issue can’t be solved.”

Despite the hardships, the visa seekers are sometimes also subjected to violence by police at the embassy gates.

The Interior Ministry, however, said that they have spread supervising the visa process at Pakistan embassy in Kabul and that recently, at least 10 individuals have been arrested on bribery charges in this regard.  

“The Interior Ministry has ordered its intelligence department to speed up their overseeing process so that the bribery issues being addressed and the culprits being identified,” said the Ministry Deputy Spokesman Nasratullah Rahimi.

Most of the Afghans are fleeing to Pakistan due to unemployment and health issues, but they usually find it challenging to acquire Pakistani visa and it turns out to be an area of concern for many of them.  

Blaze at Kabul’s Mandawi Market Causes Huge Loss Sun, 27 Jan 2019 14:11:06 +0000

A massive fire broke out in the footwear section of Kabul’s Mandawi market on Sunday morning, destroying over 200 businesses in the capital.

 Eyewitnesses said that the blaze broke out at around 06:30 am in a shoe store in the market and quickly spread to nearby shops in the market.

“The firefighters had arrived, but were failed to extinguish the blaze,” an eyewitness told Ariana News.

Eyewitnesses said that electric failure has caused the market to catch fire. However, the Interior Ministry said that it has launched an investigation into the incident.

Najib Danish, spokesman of the ministry also said that they have arrested at least 13 people including two individuals who have robbed about 20 million Pakistan rupees during today’s fire incident.  

Khwaja Masoom, head of Mandawi Market Union, meanwhile, said that hundreds of shops were destroyed in the incident; “each shop owners have suffered $100,000 to $200,000 financial losses.”

Mandawi market in Kabul –  is one of the largest markets in the city, selling everything from fresh produce and dried fruits to clothing and footwear.

AWCC Launches ‘Cheraghe Khana’ Solar Powered Lighting Services Sun, 20 Jan 2019 15:07:50 +0000

Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) has launched “Cheraghe Khana” services will provide solar powered lighting solutions to Afghans who don’t have access to grid based on electric power.

Cheraghe Khana—‘The Gift of Light’, is an affordable solar home system which easy to pay, easy to install and easy to use. The system is supported by AWCC Mobile Money services.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the system on Sunday, Mohammad Gul Khulmi, the Acting Minister of Water and Energy said that he is delighted to participate at the inauguration event of AWCC-initiated solar powered lighting services under the title of Cheraghe Khana.

The Cheraghe Khana project which is launched with d.light has the potential to make a significant contribution to Afghanistan’s economy. 

Isa Qudrat, the Deputy Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development said that project should be extended to other potential production sections in the country.  

This comes as last year, Bayat Power has signed contract of generating gas power with Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, allowing the company to build a gas-to-electricity plant in the country.

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.