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Ghani scraps NTA salary scale system

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(Last Updated On: March 3, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday instructed the Ministry of Finance to stop the National Technical Assistance (NTA) salary scale system, effective at the start of the new solar year, the Presidential Palace (ARG) said.

According to ARG, Ghani also said that the NTA positions will be changed to contract posts and a salary increase will be given to low-ranking employees.

“The NTA process will continue until the new year and in the next leadership session of the government, the mechanism (of the change) will be made,” said Fatima Morchal, deputy spokeswoman for the president.

Currently 24,000 government employees are employed on the NTA salary scale system and affects those earning between 38,000 and 250,000 AFN a month.

Members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) said government should share their plans with them.

“Government should complete its investigation and send their plan to parliament,” said Sayed Azim Keberzani, a member of the Wolesi Jirga.

This comes after MPs recently refused to approve the budget for the new fiscal on the grounds that government workers needed a pay increase.

As a result, government approved a pay rise, and stated that it would increase salaries by 2,000 AFN from the new solar year

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Strawberries hit record yield of almost 300 tons in 1399

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(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that in the 1399 solar year, 299 metric tons of strawberries were produced across the country.

The ministry said Herat, with 31 hectares of cultivated land, produced 155 metric tons of berries alone.

After Herat, Kunduz and Balkh provinces also recorded the second and third highest yield respectively.

According to the ministry strawberries are also grown in Faryab, Daikundi, Sar-e-Pul and Maidan Wardak provinces as well as a number of other provinces.

In total, last year, 62 hectares of land was used to cultivate this sweet, popular fruit.

The ministry has said that Afghanistan’s climate is conducive to the cultivation of strawberries, and that the cultivation of this fruit has been gradually promoted among the people for several years.

Strawberries are fruits rich in vitamins and nutrients and are sold on the local market for up to 200 AFN per kilogram.

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Safety Concept signed to ensure security of Afghan section of TAPI

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have signed a safety concept agreement to ensure the security of the Afghan section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

According to Turkmenistan’s Trend news agency, the signing took place on April 15 during a meeting between representatives of the two countries.

The Safety Concept is an important step in the timely implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project, including the development of a Safety Plan and Protocol, which are annexes to the Host Government Agreement, the foreign ministry’s report said.

The parties exchanged views on the ongoing work on the TAPI gas pipeline construction project and they discussed the implementation of measures to be carried out by the end of August this year.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan in December 2015.

The length of the Turkmen section of the pipeline will be 205 kilometers in length and will pass through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar (816 kilometers), through the cities of Quetta and Multan across Pakistani territory (819 kilometers), and reach the city of Fazilka in India.

The pipeline’s design capacity is planned to be 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the project’s cost – about $8 billion, Trend reports.

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Illegal Iranian saffron in the country raises concerns

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Saffron producers in Herat province have voiced concerns over the practise of importing saffron from Iran, which they say lowers the price of the spice on local markets.

Abdul Shakoor, head of a saffron producing company, said they have over the years exported hundreds of kilograms of saffron annually but that there is a growing trend among traders to import the spice illegally from Iran.

“It is a betrayal to the nation,” said Abdul Shakoor.

This comes after producers recorded a 30 percent increase in saffron exports last year.

Herat saffron exporters union said they have not been able to prove that saffron is being smuggled from Iran into Afghanistan but said controls in this regard were lacking.

“Some amount of saffron might be imported from Iran and will be exported from Afghanistan, but it is very rare. Afghanistan produces saffron by itself and there is no need for Iranian saffron,” said Mohamad Uthman Ansari, head of Herat saffron exporters union.

“We are not able to prove [reports] who imports the saffron… one thing that we notice is poor management,” said Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of Afghanistan saffron producers union.

The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry said bringing saffron into Afghanistan is illegal.

Spokesman for the ministry, Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi said this week that action would be taken against anyone who brings saffron into the country illegally adding that Afghanistan’s saffron is the best in the world.

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