Afghanistan Railways Authority (ARA) officials have said that operating contracts with neighboring countries for Afghanistan’s railway stations were formalized without taking the country’s best interests into consideration.
According to officials, tens of millions of dollars has been paid annually to companies from neighboring countries to run the stations.
ARA’s new leadership is now however working on a plan to outsource the operation of railway stations to Afghan companies so that it can benefit the Afghan national economy directly.
Bakht-u-Rehman Sharafat, director of ARA, said an Uzbekistan company has the contract to operate the port of Hairatan at a cost of $18 million a year. However, local companies are prepared to do the same work for much less, he said.
“The port of Hairatan, through which we carry most of our shipments, has been contracted by an Uzbek company for $18 million a year, while Afghan companies will do this for less than 25 percent of this amount,” said Sharafat.
Afghanistan’s private sector has also called on the country’s railway authority to increase trade capacity at its ports.
Members of the private sector said the local economy will improve if railway services expand.
“If we can do our export by rail, it will be cheaper for us and with that we will be able to expand our exports and lower our prices,” said Abdul Jabar Safi, the director of the Afghanistan Industries Association.
MTN receives $35 million offer for Afghanistan operation
South Africa’s MTN Group has received a binding offer for 100% of its shares in MTN Afghanistan for a consideration of approximately $35 million, the company has confirmed.
The identity of the buyer was not disclosed but the operator expects the transaction to be concluded within roughly six months, South African media reports indicated.
The sale will mark the completion of the group’s planned exit from its consolidated Middle East and Central Asia markets following the sale of its business in Yemen and the loss of its Syrian operations last year.
Muttaqi urges China to help increase Afghan export volume
Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with Beijing’s visiting special envoy to Kabul on Tuesday and called on China to pave the way for Afghan exports.
During the meeting, held in Kabul, Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government for starting the visa issuance process in Kabul for Afghan traders, calling it beneficial for bilateral trade between the two countries.
China’s envoy Yue Xiaoyong said that he was working on bilateral and multinational relations with Afghanistan, and spoke about the “encouraging news during his recent regional visits,” according to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry.
Yue also praised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for its efforts and achievements, adding that the new Afghan government has been able to fulfill challenging and significant tasks in a short period of time, and that it had managed the natural disasters and cold winter well, the statement said.
The Chinese special envoy said bilateral relations with Afghanistan had progressed significantly, adding that the meetings between the two countries’ foreign ministers depicted deep relations between the two nations.
He also said that in addition to pine nuts, China was considering importing other dried and fresh fruits to help Afghanistan’s economy.
China’s special envoy arrived in Kabul after visiting Turkey, Pakistan and India to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, the envoy also met with Acting Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, where they discussed the need for bilateral cooperation.
Mujahid told the envoy that Afghanistan would facilitate investment in the country.
Musk says Twitter deal could move ahead with ‘bot’ info
Elon Musk said Saturday his planned $44 billion takeover of Twitter should move forward if the company can confirm some details about how it measures whether user accounts are ‘spam bots’ or real people, AP reported Saturday.
The billionaire and Tesla CEO has been trying to back out of his April agreement to buy the social media company, leading Twitter to sue him last month to complete the acquisition. Musk countersued, accusing Twitter of misleading his team about the true size of its user base and other problems he said amounted to fraud and breach of contract.
Both sides are headed toward an October trial in a Delaware court.
“If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms,” Musk tweeted early Saturday. “However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not.”
Twitter declined comment Saturday. The company has repeatedly disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission an estimate that fewer than 5% of user accounts are fake or spam, with a disclaimer that it could be higher. Musk waived his right to further due diligence when he signed the April merger agreement.
Twitter has argued in court that Musk is deliberately trying to tank the deal because market conditions have deteriorated and the acquisition no longer serves his interests. In a court filing Thursday, it describes his counterclaims as an imagined story “contradicted by the evidence and common sense.”
“Musk invents representations Twitter never made and then tries to wield, selectively, the extensive confidential data Twitter provided him to conjure a breach of those purported representations,” company attorneys wrote.
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