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

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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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ADB approves $110 million grant to boost power supply to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 1, 2020)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday approved a $110 million grant to boost power supply and strengthen Afghanistan’s energy sector by improving its sustainability and promoting cross-border trade in energy. 

“The project will help address Afghanistan’s chronic power shortage by immediately doubling the volume of power imports and ensuring long-term cost-competitive electricity supply,” read a statement issued by ADB. 

Once complete, the project will provide improved access to customers and facilitate 500,000 new connections to households, commercial entities, and industrial customers.

“Demand for electricity is growing rapidly in Afghanistan and is essential for the country’s economic growth,” said ADB Energy Specialist Nana Gurgenidze. 

“The project will help provide reliable and affordable electricity to households and businesses by strengthening the grid and increasing power import capacity by 900 megawatts, with year-round firm energy imports of 3,000 gigawatt-hours.”

Afghanistan relies on energy imports from neighboring countries to meet its domestic demand and despite significant progress since 2002, only about 34 percent of the population has access to grid-connected electricity.

According to the ADB, the project will finance the construction of 201km of a 500-kilovolt overhead transmission line from the Surkhan substation in Uzbekistan to the Khwaja-Alwan substation in Afghanistan – a key interconnection node to receive power from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. 

It will also fund the expansion of a line bay, including associated equipment, at the Khwaja-Alwan substation and the project will allow Uzbek power into the Afghan grid under a 10-year power purchase and sales agreement signed in August 2020 by the Afghanistan and Uzbekistan governments.

In addition, staff, including female engineers at the national power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), will be trained to manage cross-border power transfer and parallel operations, including emergency operation systems with CAPS, read the statement.

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Afghanistan, Turkmenistan sign MoUs, seal private sector contracts

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

Afghanistan and Turkmenistan signed three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and an economic cooperation agreement in Kabul on Wednesday for electricity and fiber optics.

In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace (ARG), two companies will be responsible for transferring 500 MW of electricity from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and for connecting a fiber optics network. The companies are Afghanistan’s Bayat Group and Turkmenistan’s Chalak Company.

During the official signing ceremony, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked the two companies for their cooperation and said Turkmenistan and Afghanistan are proving to be good neighbors amid efforts to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties. 

“Thanks to the presence of Bayat Group and Chalak Private Company, it shows that Afghan and international private companies have joined hands to provide electricity,” Ghani was quoted in the statement as having said. 

“Fiber optics is the infrastructure of the 21st century and this infrastructure gives hope to our youth. Innovative work in the 21st century is impossible without a comprehensive understanding of fiber optic networks, connectivity and modern technology,” he stated.

Representing Turkmenistan at the event was Turkmen Ambassador to Afghanistan Ovezov Hoja Sapargeldievich.

The ambassador said talks between the presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan had always been about bilateral cooperation and partnership. He said his country supports all efforts and initiatives for peace and stability in Afghanistan and hoped that Afghanistan would achieve peace as soon as possible.

Ghani in turn thanked the ambassador and the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and said that with ongoing efforts to strengthen ties new avenues, including the lapus lazuli and silk road routes, were projects that will be delivered on. 

He said the countries were today able to revisit history and make up for the time lost in recent years. 

Ghani also said the TAPI pipeline project would benefit both countries and the people of Afghanistan. 

“Turkmenistan is a good neighbor not only to Afghanistan, but to all of us, and we are going back to our ancient roots,” he said.

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Three-day expo of Iranian goods and services underway in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: September 23, 2020)

Iran is hosting a three-day trade exhibition in Kabul in the hope of strengthening bilateral trade ties with Afghanistan. 

Speaking at the event, Iran’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Bahador Aminian said the exhibition aims to promote trade and share technical “know-how” with Afghanistan. 

Iran’s Commercial Consular in Kabul Javanmard Qassab said the exhibition will last for three days in an effort to introduce Iranian products to Afghan customers.

He said the embassy was hoping to sign agreements between Iranian and Afghan businesses. 

Trade value between the two countries has now topped $1.5 billion, with Iran exporting a large amount of goods to its neighbor annually. 

Afghan traders are also showcasing their products to Iranian businesses.

 Representatives of 21 Iranian companies that offer services within the municipal sector are participating along with 54 other Iranian companies. 

These companies are from a cross-sector of the commercial industry including technical and engineering services, along with electricity, energy and telecommunications providers.

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