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Work on Aqina-Ankhoi railway line close to completion: Officials

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(Last Updated On: December 20, 2020)
Afghanistan Railways Authority (ARA) said that construction work on the Aqina-Ankhoi railway line in northern Faryab province is 85 percent complete and that the transport link is expected to be launched within the next few months. 
 
In a post on ARA’s Facebook page, the agency said the initial phase was completed last year and that construction work got underway this year. 
 
Aqina is a border crossing in northern Afghanistan into Turkmenistan and is also a train station. 
 
The new line from Ankhoi will connect to the existing railway line between Aqina and Atamyrat in Turkmenistan, which was officially opened in November 2016. 
 
This line will eventually form part of a railway corridor through northern Afghanistan, and is part of government’s greater project to construct and operate an eventual network of railway lines around the country in order to connect directly with other Central Asian and European countries. 
 
ARA officials meanwhile said the construction contract of the 31km-long stretch of the Aqina-Andkhoi railway line was signed between ARA and the Turkmenistan Ministry of Industries and Communications in February.
 
This latest development comes just over a week after the key Herat-Khaf railway line was officially inaugurated virtually by the presidents of Iran and Afghanistan.
 
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both spoke online at the ceremony and said the Herat-Khaf railway line will strengthen relations between Afghanistan and Iran and will considerably boost trade to their respective countries and beyond.

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28 production and trade companies participate in Gulfood 2021 Exhibition

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) says that 28 production, processing, and trade companies from Afghanistan have participated in the Gulfood 2021 International Exhibition.

The 2021 edition of Gulfood is being held between the 21st and 25th of February at Dubai International Exhibition Center.

Habibullah Habibi, director of private sector development at the Ministry says that the expo is an exceptional and very important opportunity for Afghan traders to introduce Afghan agricultural and livestock products to the world.

Afghan traders participated in the exhibition with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture; these products included saffron, dried fruits, herbs, honey and processed fruits, and dozens of other products.

Gulfood International exhibition is one of the largest food exhibitions in the world, with traders from more than 85 countries participating.

This year, as in previous years, tens of thousands of visitors and businessmen are expected to visit the exhibition.

According to ministry officials, Afghan products were welcomed at the exhibition and more than $ 100 million worth of contracts were awarded for the sale of Afghan agricultural and livestock products.

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Parliament approves fiscal year’s budget, Ghani praises the move

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(Last Updated On: February 22, 2021)

The Afghan parliament on Monday approved the current fiscal year’s budget with the majority of votes after weeks of tensions between the two-state branches over the document.

Following the national fiscal year budget approval the Presidential Palace issued a statement saying that President Ghani thanked members of the House of Representatives for approving the budget for the 1400 solar fiscal year.

“The President praised the decision, approving the national budget for the solar year 1400 in the national interest, and called it important for the timely implementation of the basic plans and programs of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, especially development projects throughout the country,” read the statement.

“Increasing the salaries of employees, accommodating development projects, the relative balance of money in special codes, reducing unnecessary spending, preventing the loss of people’s money are important chapters of this success,” said Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the house.

The fiscal year began on December 21, 2020, and the parliament rejected the budget draft twice.

On Sunday, lawmakers and the Finance Ministry officials agreed on almost all 19 disputed points, but they still have yet to agree on the allocation of the budget for the High Council for National Reconciliation as well as over the reduction in the number of development projects, MPs said.

Both sides also disagreed on a 15 million AFN allocation for the Afghanistan Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, but the issue was solved when the fund was removed from the third budget draft, according to lawmakers.

In the third and latest draft, 105 million AFN ($1.3 million) have been shifted to the regular budget from the development budget.

Meanwhile, MPs did not approve the budget for a number of departments that did not receive a vote by the parliament, such as the High Council for National Reconciliation, and placed the budget of the Council under the budget of the Presidential administration office.

Some MPs still believe that no changes have been brought in the budget and that “everything (recent disputes) was just a show and was for personal interests.”

The estimated budget for the fiscal year 1400 is over 473 billion AFN (nearly $6 billion), including 311 billion AFN ($4 billion) for the regular budget and 162 billion AFN ($2 billion) for the development budget.

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Protesting truckers driving up prices at Kabul’s bazaars

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(Last Updated On: February 17, 2021)

Shopkeepers and Kabul residents on Wednesday raised concerns about the increase in price of basic goods, foodstuff and fuel, which they attribute to protesting truck drivers.

Truck drivers started protesting against the issuance of new permits, which they claim puts them at risk of falling victim to corruption on the part of police. 

In protest against this move, truck drivers have since blocked key highways for other trucks into Kabul. 

This has however had a resounding effect on the price of goods on local markets. 
 
A study by Ariana News found that on Wednesday liquid gas had increased from 48 AFN to 80 AFN per liter. 
 
The price of petrol also went up, from 36 AFN a liter to 47 AFN a liter. A bag of flour meanwhile increased to 2,000 AFN from 1,800 AFN. 
 
Hashmat, one shopkeeper said some highways into Kabul had been closed for 20 days – putting a strain on supplies. He also said government was not doing anything to address the problem.
 
“Government is careless about this; a lot of the goods are destroyed (along transit routes); and prices have increased,” said Hashmat.
 
Traders stated that a continued rise in costs of basic goods will result in an economic crisis in the country. They called for government to resolve the issues urgently.  
 
“Our stock is not enough to last for 10 days. We used to pay 40 Afs a kilo for gas, now we pay 47 Afs,” said Ahmadzai, a trader.
 
“Highways are blocked; if we do not get gas at the bazaar soon, the price will rise to 250 a kilogram soon,” said Moqim, another trader.
 
Officials meanwhile stated that legal action will be taken against those who block highways.
 
“Biased and irresponsible people, who are blocking highways will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office,” said Hekmatullah Qawanch, spokesman for the Ministry of Transport.
 
The Ministry of Interior’s spokesman Tariq Arian meanwhile said drivers have complained that police are demanding bribes from them. 
 
“Some drivers connected to transportation companies claim that police are bribing them,” said Arian.
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