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Concerns Rise over Chabahar Port as U.S. to Re-impose Sanctions on Iran

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2018)

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) says the United States sanctions on Iran will have negative impacts on Chabahar – a new transportation corridor for land-locked Afghanistan.

The Indian-backed Chabahar port in Iran is being developed that could potentially open the way for millions of dollars in trade and cut Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan.

Building Afghanistan’s economy would also slash Kabul’s dependence on foreign aid and put a major dent in the illicit opium trade, the Taliban’s main revenue source.

But Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran and penalise financial institutions for doing business with Tehran is clouding Chabahar’s viability as banks, nervous they could be hit with crippling penalties, pull back from financing.

“We have been in talks with Iran and India so that we could increase exports through this [corridor], but the sanctions may leave unpleasant impacts,” said Khanjan Alokozai, the acting head of ACCI.

Some economic analysts also stressed tensions between great powers in the region will have negative outcomes on Afghanistan economy.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries’ spokesman Musafer Qaqandi, however, said that the government has opened air corridors for exporting commercial products to global markets, adding that they are preserving national interests in every step taking forward.

The join Iran-India-Afghanistan Chabahar project was launched in 2016. But the port is yet to see significant traffic apart from some containers of donated wheat from India, and the first shipments of Afghan dried fruit to India last year.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan to expand trade ties

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan have agreed to form a joint committee to expand trade and transportation relations. 

The leaders of the three countries in an online meeting discussed the formation of a joint committee that could work on regional connectivity, railway development, fiber optics, and transportation.

In a tripartite meeting between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the three leaders discussed trade cooperation. They agreed on the proposal of the President of Azerbaijan to form a joint delegation, which includes ministers of transport and other officials from the three countries.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani welcomed the proposal of the President of Azerbaijan to form a joint delegation of the three countries

At the meeting, the President of Turkmenistan supported the plan of the port of Aqina and Turgundi to better transmit commercial goods.

“So the first thing is to welcome President Aliyev’s suggestion backed by President Berdimuhamedow that we form a joint task force at the level of heads of transports and other relevant ministries from the three ministries,” said Afghan Pres. Ghani.

During the meeting, Mr. Ghani also announced the development of a railway in Afghanistan, saying that the country needs 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers of railways for economic development and that international partners have expressed readiness to cooperate in this area.

Turkmenistan has expanded the railway network to the ports of Aqina and Torghundi for trade with Afghanistan, which the Afghan government wants to become standard ports.

Ashraf Ghani added: “We are creating dry ports to eight locations in Afghanistan… the finance development cooperation of the United States is now willing and ready to work with us to offer guarantees.”

 In the past, Afghans relied heavily on the Pakistani port of Karachi for trade with the world. With the opening of Iran’s Chabahar port and the opening of new transit routes through Central Asian countries, Afghanistan has been able to reduce its reliance on the port of Karachi in recent years

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Parliament approves amended Coronavirus budget

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2020)

The Lower House of the Afghan parliament approved on Wednesday the extra budget for the Coronavirus crisis in the country.

The lawmakers, however, had rejected the budget but the government resent the draft to the House after bringing some minor changes in it.

The Finance and Budget Commission of the parliament says the national budget was 428 billion AFN, but the government has added another 21 billion AFN. 

“In the first amend draft 428.380 billion AFN included all the budget. But the budget raised to 449 billion AFN of which 30 billion is allocated to contain the coronavirus, “Abdul Rauf Anami, a member of the commission said.

Meanwhile, joint parliamentary commissions rejected the government’s amended draft to increase operative funds and transfer funds from many development projects to the Coronavirus budget.

“In areas where additional money was offered, we rejected it, for example, a 1.7 billion AFN for operational units, transferring three hundred and fifty million AFN to the provinces,” said Mir Afghan Safi, head of the Finance and Budget Commission. “It was difficult to monitor, and all the commissions have accepted the amendment of the parliament and it is an agreement.”

Finally, the House of Representatives put the budget document to fight the coronavirus on a vote by adding the amendments of the commissions of the House.

Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said: “The government’s proposed amendments to fight the coronavirus and the accidental amendments of the commissions are to be put on vote… It is approved with a majority of for votes and five against votes.”

However, members of the House of Representatives emphasize that they will closely monitor how the budget would be utilized to fight the coronavirus, as any corruption in this regard could lead to people’s death.

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Afghan Senate accuses central bank officials of “violating law”

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2020)

Members of the Upper House of the Afghan parliament said that the Central Bank Governor Ajmal Ahmadi, contrary to principles, has fired his deputies and staff, calling him a “tyrant”.

In a video released on social media shows that Afghan Central Bank – Da Afghanistan Bank -security guards did not allow Wahid Nooshir, the organization’s first deputy, to enter his office.

Nosher, in a Facebook post, said that as per the oral direction of President Ghani he intended to resign from his post on Monday, but he was not allowed to enter the Bank.

Nosher accused Ajmal Ahmadi of breaking administrative principles.

Qasim Rahimi, dismissed deputy head of the Central Bank of Afghanistan also considers the attitude of the head of this institution towards the bank’s employees against the law and principles.

According to the article Seven of the Da Afghanistan Bank Law, the Supreme Council of Da Afghanistan Bank shall be composed of seven members, as follows: Governor as Chairman of the Supreme Council First Deputy Governor as Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council Five other members.

The article says that “[All] members of the Supreme Council shall be appointed by the President of Afghanistan with the consent of the parliament of Afghanistan.”

Article 12 of the law says that the Governor, the First Deputy Governor, and any other member of the Supreme Council, of Da Afghanistan Bank, shall be suspended or removed from office by the President of Afghanistan.

“No member of the Supreme Council shall be suspended or removed from office before a hearing has been held by the President of Afghanistan where such member or his legal representative has presented his reasons,” read the law.

Meanwhile, lawyers say that if any employee of the organization is accused of corruption, only the judiciary has the right to review the case, and then the leadership must decide.

On the other hand, officials at the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan and economic experts are concerned about the current situation at the Central Bank of Afghanistan, saying that the continuation of such a situation will put the financial institution in crisis.

The head of the Central Bank of Afghanistan has not commented on the reason for the dismissal of his two deputies, but a statement from the organization said that the latest measures were taken in accordance with Article 20 and the third paragraph of the Central Bank of Afghanistan law.

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