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Gov’t collects more than 2.2 billion AFN from 10% telecom tax in past seven months

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: August 2, 2020)

The government has logged more than 2.2 billion AFN in tax collection via the 10 percent telecom tax on mobile phone subscribers since the beginning of the current fiscal year. 

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) said Saturday that through the Real-Time Data Management System – a system used for monitoring the collection of the 10 percent taxes from telecom services – it managed to collect the revenue.

“We managed to collect more than 2.2 billion AFN since the beginning of 2020 and handed it over to the government treasury,” said Abdul Samad Hamid Poya, a spokesman for the MCIT.

Experts, however, claimed the Ministry has yet to ensure transparency in the collection process of the 10 percent revenue tax from mobile phone users.

According to them, the ministry failed to provide details about the exact number of active SIM Cards. But Samad Hamid Poya blamed some telecom companies for not providing them information on the issue.

“We acknowledge that the Ministry of Communications has done some of its work, but if the 10 percent tax would be collected transparently the ministry could generate more revenue than what they have shared,” Salim Tufan an economist told Ariana News.

Last year the MCIT installed “Real-Time Data Management” for the collection of tax across the country. The system was aimed at collecting genuine information through connecting with the telecommunication network system to ensure and gain public confidence in the transparency of the collection process of 10 percent telecom tax and other telecommunication revenues.

Since then, the system remained one of the most controversial issues in the Ministry. Critics believe that the system cannot ensure transparency in the mobile tax collection.

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MTN to quit Afghanistan, along with other Middle Eastern countries

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

MTN Group will exit its operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan to become an Africa-only-focused telecommunications operator.

The group said in a statement on Thursday that “MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will, therefore, be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium term.” 

The group is already in “advanced discussions” to sell its 75 percent stake in its Syrian subsidiary, CEO Rob Shuter said in a call with journalists. It is negotiating with TeleInvest, the 25% owner of the Syrian business, about the sale.

Shuter said the initial focus will be on exiting its operations in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. However, it also plans to divest of its 49 percent of its stake in MTN Irancell in time.

News of the Middle East and Afghanistan exit comes after a lawsuit was filed in the US in April this year that claimed MTN and several other Western businesses aided terrorist organizations in activities carried out against the United States in the region.

Filed on behalf of American service members, civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan, the complaint alleged that MTN paid over $100 million to al-Qaeda and the Taliban so its towers would not be destroyed.

The lawsuit also claimed that MTN would switch off these towers at night, and in doing so, hampered US intelligence operations.

Mybroadband.co.za reported that MTN previously filed a motion to dismiss the original lawsuit, because it said the court lacks jurisdiction over MTN, which does not operate in the United States, and because the complaint does not allege any conduct by MTN that would have violated the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Following an amendment of the complaint by the plaintiffs in June this year, the operator now anticipates filing another motion to dismiss on largely the same grounds.

“MTN remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and will defend its position where necessary,” the operator said.

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Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launches new service to Kabul and Dhaka

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2020)

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi has announced the introduction of two new destinations — Kabul in Afghanistan and Dhaka in Bangladesh – with direct flights from Abu Dhabi commencing on August 7.

Initially there will be three flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Kabul, on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

 

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was formed following an agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish Abu Dhabi’s first low-cost carrier that follows the business model of Air Arabia and complements the services of Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi thereby catering to the growing low-cost travel market segment in the region.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi started its operations in July 2020 with flights to Alexandria and Sohag in Egypt from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

 

 

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Integrity Watch urges govt to engage with locals to develop mining sector

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2020)

Integrity Watch Afghanistan said in a new study of community engagement in the mining sector that the role of local communities in mining areas is very weak and the government has not institutionalized public engagement through any long-term strategy.

Integrity Watch said the report provides a working basis for civil society organizations willing to develop a community monitoring project in the mining sector and states that there is vast potential in engaging communities in the mining sector including prevention of illegal mining, increasing government revenues and contributing to stability and security at the local level.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch, said: “The government has taken some steps to engage the public in the extractive sector. However, these efforts have been sporadic, have not been informed by Afghan and global experiences and have therefore not been effective during the past ten years.”

He said that early this month the cabinet decided governors need to collect information from local communities about mining sites.

Afzali said this was a welcome step by the government but the process of collecting information needs to be systematic and well planned.

“Our experiences of Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) in other sectors prove that public engagement can improve accountability and build trust between the government and the citizens.

“The Afghan government can build trust and provide people with a constant channel of communication by engaging communities in the monitoring of mining operations throughout the mining cycle from exploration to extraction.”

Meanwhile, Charlotte Boyer, the author of the report, said: “This report outlines the dos and do-nots of engaging people in the extractive sector and this could be used by civil society, government and the private sector to understand people’s views and design their engagement mechanisms with the communities around the mining sites.”

The report notes a number of recommendations that could be taken into consideration when engaging people in the mining sector.

The report also suggests a methodology developed by Integrity Watch be used whereby communities are mobilized and trained, and a literate and honest member of the community is elected to monitor the mining site. Information can then be shared on progress and challenges and issues can be identified and addressed with the mining company and local government.

But torn by four decades of war, Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world. The value of these resources has been roughly estimated between $1 trillion and $3 trillion.

Afghanistan has vast reserves of gold, platinum, silver, copper, iron, chromite, lithium, uranium, and aluminum as well as high-quality emeralds, rubies, sapphires, turquoise, and lapis lazuli as well as natural gas and petroleum.

Earlier this year, the Diplomat reported that the one thing that could possibly shift Afghanistan from being a foreign aid-dependent country to an economically stable one is the proper exploitation of its mineral wealth.

The Diplomat reported that if robust policies coupled with a comprehensive, realistic and long-term strategic approach is adopted and if exploited effectively, mining could prove to be the best substitute for foreign aid and decrease the country’s dependence on donor countries and foreign support.

These resources, if properly managed, provide an opportunity for Afghanistan to write its own story of economic success, the article stated.

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