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RECCA Ambassadorial Coordination Meeting Held in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2019)

The Second RECCA Ambassadorial Coordination Meeting in 2019 and the Inauguration Ceremony of the RECCA Chamber of Commerce and Industries (RCCI) was held on Wednesday at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul.

High-level officials from the Afghan government and heads of the diplomatic mission in Kabul participated at the event.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, the Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Idrees Zaman emphasized that regional cooperation is needed for economic growth.

He also spoke about the link between peace, development, and connectivity and provided an overview of the regional cooperation efforts and progress made recently under RECCA.

Mr. Zaman highlighted the important role of RCCI in trade expansion and investment promotion in the wider RECCA region.

On his turn, the Yadgarkhoja Shadmanov, the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Afghanistan said that his country is interested to expand its economic relation with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan will open a huge exhibition in Afghanistan in the near future.

At the same event, Muqadasa Yourish, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce said that we want to have economic growth at the region and in order to reach to this goal we will pave the ground for the private sector and will increase our relations with the regional countries.

Atiqullah Nusrat, CEO of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment called on the member states of RECCA to provide the opportunity for the private sector to implement the projects.

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World Bank provides $200 million for Afghanistan to protect people, support businesses amid COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved a $200 million grant to help Afghanistan mitigate COVID-19 impacts and provide relief to vulnerable people and businesses.

In a statement released on Thursday, the World Bank said that the Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant comprises $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.

The Afghanistan COVID-19 Response Development Policy Grant will support the government of Afghanistan to strengthen policies that promote faster recovery and keep basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and telecommunications afloat and running, the statement said.

“The program will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“Policy actions supported by the program will both help mitigate the impacts of the current crisis on the poor and vulnerable and also lay critical foundations for longer-term recovery. The World Bank will continue to stand with the people of Afghanistan through this crisis,” Kerali added.

The World Bank said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant adverse health, social, and economic impacts in Afghanistan, shrinking the economy and driving down public revenue.

“The grant will support changes in regulations to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, protect healthcare workers, and raise awareness on gender-based violence in schools,” it stated.

The organization added that it will also support plans to encourage students to return to school when educational institutions are to reopen after the COVID-19 crisis.

It comes as the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 33,908 with 957 and 20,847 recoveries in Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan customs revenue lost to ’embezzlement’

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Although taxpayers pay customs duties at the Afghan customs, not all of the revenue being collected in the Afghan government’s account, local officials said.

The ports of Torkham in Nangarhar, Islam Qala in Herat, Hairatan in Balkh, Aqina in Faryab, Spin Boldak in Kandahar, Shirkhan Bandar in Kunduz, Angur Ada in Paktika and several other ports in the north and south of the country have witnessed widespread corruption.

In these ports, although custom fees are paid by taxpayers, little money is raised in government reserves, most of the ports are said to be in the hands of gunmen and the powerful.

Local officials in the provinces where the ports are located say that corruption in customs has recently peaked.

On the other hand, the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan criticizes the lack of administrative reforms, adding that unreasonable appointments have increased corruption in the country’s customs and that the government has not yet taken any steps to reform the process. According to the head of the institution, the current situation has led to organized corruption in customs.

The Ministry of Finance also promises to bring transparency to the country’s customs.

Finance Ministry spokesman Shamrooz Khan Masjidi said customs revenues are being closely monitored to prevent corruption.

Earlier, the governor of Herat said that Islam Qala’s revenue was being looted by mafia gangs and the warlords. According to economists, this is the case in most of the country’s customs.

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Millions of dollars embezzled in Afghan customs: Watchdog

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(Last Updated On: July 6, 2020)

Integrity Watch of Afghanistan says that corrupt employees in Afghan customs, local tyrants, and government figures have embezzled millions of dollars of customs revenues.

Based on the findings of local authorities, ten cargoes are being pulled out of the customs office without paying the customs duty with the same plate number, and about 100 cargoes are not paying their customs duties daily.

Ghulam Hashim, a member of the Herat Provincial Council, said: “Ten trucks are being cleared through customs with one plate number. Extra tonnage vehicles up to 100 trucks a day, extra tonnage fuel tankers were being cleared through customs.”

The head of Islam Qala Customs also confirms the widespread corruption in this customs.

“The threats from the powerful and the mafia are so much that 100 percent of the legal work cannot be done there, the high-level work of the employees is carried out by force, and even some employees, including the human resources manager, have been beaten,” said Mustafa Hakimi, Herat’s customs chief. “

Herat’s governor says only 30,000 afghanis are paid out of the three million AFN from the costums duties of a cargo.

Ahmad Wahid Qatali, the governor of Herat, said: “Seven vehicles have been loaded, seven of which have illegal loads, overloads, warnings and reload.”

Findings of Integrity Watch of Afghanistan from the Customs Office show that millions of dollars’ worth of customs revenue has been lost.

“Millions of dollars of Afghanistan’s customs revenue is wasted every year because there are people infected with corruption in the customs and the intervention of local powerful people and people within the government,” said Naser Timouri, a researcher at Integrity Watch of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Finance, however, confirmed the existence of corruption in the customs.

“The issue of corruption is not in doubt that it exists, but the figures presented are waiting for the governor to share his findings with us so that we can find out on what basis the governor obtained these figures,” said Shamrooz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance. It’s found. “

Observers at Integrity Watch of Afghanistan say that non-transparent and non-competitive customs clearance has corrupted the structure.

Farid Ahmad, a spokesman for the Independent Administrative Reform Commission, said: “So far, all recruitment at customs has been done by the Ministry of Finance and the Independent Administrative Reform Commission has played no role. But by presidential decree, customs posts are set to compete freely.” “

Although the Ministry of Finance says that scanners have been set up in customs offices for corruption, sources say that in some customs offices, the scanners are kept inactive due to product exemptions.

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