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Anti-graft commission probes ‘catastrophic’ customs corruption



(Last Updated On: May 20, 2021)

Anti-corruption agencies have described reports by the acting minister of finance that as much as $8 million is being embezzled by customs on a daily basis as being “catastrophic”.

The Anti-Corruption Commission says it is investigating the acting minister’s claims.

“The Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the matter and will obtain further information from the Ministry of Finance,” said Mohammad Salim Safari, media officer at the commission.

This comes after acting finance minister Khalid Painda told MPs in the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) on Wednesday that between $7 million and $8 million was not being collected daily by customs across the country.

MPs in turn accused government leadership, especially the Ministry of Finance, of being the main culprits regarding corruption in customs, and said Painda needs to stop corruption instead of complaining about it.

On Wednesday, Painda told MPs in Parliament that there are reports of corruption involving governors, police commanders, employees of the Ministry of Finance as well as members of the public.

Asked about who is behind the multi-million dollar corruption scheme, Painda was not able to give satisfactory answers, members of the administrative board of the Wolesi Jirga said.

“Instead of giving statistics, the Ministry of Finance should fight corruption and reveal the list of corrupt people,” said Hujatullah Kheradmand, Deputy Secretary of the House of Representatives.

Members of the public, however, have a different view, saying that the head and leadership of the Ministry of Finance are primarily responsible for the corruption but instead they are blaming others.

President Ashraf Ghani has in the past accused the interior ministry of being at the heart of corruption in the country. But some members of the public say it appears that the ministry of finance has now taken that top spot.

In response to the scandal, the Ministry of Industry and Trade says that the smuggling of commercial goods into the country has reduced domestic production.

The Ministry says that joint efforts have been launched with the Ministry of Finance to address this challenge, and that tariffs on imported goods should be increased by 100 percent.

The private sector, on the other hand, says that domestic industrialists still do not have access to production resources.

Members of the private sector say that if the government supports the private sector, investments in the country will increase and jobs will be created.


Islamic Development Bank pledges $8.1 million to help Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: June 7, 2023)

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has signed cooperation agreements worth $8.1 million with six international humanitarian agencies to help the people of Afghanistan in various sectors.

The contracts are in the areas of food security, drinking water supply, health and in agriculture in different provinces of the country.

The Ministry of Finance in a statement welcomed the move.

“The Ministry of Finance welcomes this good action of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Islamic Development Bank, the King Salman charity, the Saudi Fund and the member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and expresses its gratitude and appreciation for their humanitarian and generous assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.

The Ministry of Finance called on all humanitarian aid organizations to design projects, taking into account the realities and priorities of the society and with the coordination of the ministry, so that the existing problems of the people are “completely solved.”

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Two new gas wells to be drilled in northern Afghanistan this year



(Last Updated On: June 7, 2023)

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum spokesman said on Tuesday that two new gas wells will be drilled in northern Jawzjan province this year and gas processing units will be installed alongside the wells in order to purify the gas on site.

The ministry’s spokesman Hamayoun Afghan said a gas pipeline of over 90 kms long, between Jawzjan and Balkh, will be completed and put into operation this year. “This year, we will try to complete the gas pipeline between Jawzjan and Balkh, and we will continue to dig new wells in the Yatem Taq area, and we will try to increase our production in order to increase our revenue,” he said.

He said currently 600 thousand cubic meters of gas is extracted and processed in Jawzjan province daily, but plans are in place to increase this to two million cubic meters per day.

“We are trying to buy new equipment to have a processing capacity of 2.5 million cubic meters of gas per day, and we are fully prepared to launch this project,” Afghan said.

The ministry did not however give any indication of whether agreements had been signed with private investors to extract the gas.

Khan Jan Alkozai, a member of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said the country will benefit enormously if more investment is made in this sector.

“I think that there is a high capacity in the area of energy production from gas, and in the area of attracting investment in this area, the facilities should be provided,” said Alkozai.

Currently, there are gas fields in nine areas of Jawzjan province, including in Yatem Taq, Jarqaduk, Jangal Kalan, Khowaja Bolan and other areas.

Energy production is a priority for the Islamic Emirate as the government relies on neighboring countries to supply it with over 50% of its current electricity needs.

In addition to coal-fired energy production plants, the IEA is also encouraging investment in gas to electricity plants. This process in the country is not new, as one trailblazer has been successfully supplying electricity to hundreds of thousands of people for the past few years.

The company is Bayat Power, Afghanistan’s largest, Afghan-owned and operated power production company and it has the region’s most technologically advanced gas fired electric power plant.

Launched in 2019, this commercial operation provides reliable and affordable electric power to hundreds of thousands of people in the country.

Located in Sheberghan, in gas-rich Jawzjan province, Bayat Power has steadfastly aimed to provide essential power for Afghanistan’s economic growth.

Powered by a Siemens SGT-A45 ‘Fast Power’ turbine, the world’s most advanced mobile gas to energy power solution, phase one of Bayat Power-1’s operations generates up to 44 megawatts of power for Afghan homes and businesses.

To date, Bayat Power has delivered over 700 million kilowatts of domestic power to the Afghan grid.

However, Bayat Power hopes to eventually roll out three phases in total that will generate more than 200 megawatts of electricity – enough to serve millions of Afghan residential and commercial clients.


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IEA calls for reduction in production and use of plastic



(Last Updated On: June 5, 2023)

Abdulrahman Hafez, the general director of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) on Monday called on companies and the public to reduce the production and use of plastics.

Marking World Environment Day under the theme of “Fighting Plastic Pollution”, Hafez urged business owners to start using paper bags instead.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the occasion, Hafez said: “We ask the industrialists and factory owners of the country to gradually stop the production of plastic bags and instead provide the basis for the production of paper bags.”

NEPA officials also called on the international community to resume work on 22 environmental-related projects that have been suspended.

In addition, the Minister of Public Health said at the ceremony that the Islamic Emirate is ready to fully cooperate with the international community in the field of environmental protection and air pollution control.

Dr. Qalandar Ebad said air pollution contributes to the high levels of cancer and that there are limited oncology treatment options in the country. He said however, that the ministry is drawing up a national program, in line with global standards, to treat cancer patients.

“One of the causes of cancer is definitely plastic pollution, and experts know how plastic causes cancer in humans. And cancer is a disease that we don’t have a single specialist in the cancer department in Afghanistan today,” Ebad said.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, more than 430 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide every year, half of which is designed for single use. The UN also stated that more than 20,000 truckloads of plastic garbage are dumped into oceans, seas and lakes every day.

Abdul Latif Nazari, Deputy Minister of Economy, says that: “Due to the lack of development in the villages of Afghanistan, unfortunately, in many cases, our compatriots use contaminated water, which can have destructive and negative consequences in the reproduction of diseases for our compatriots.”

In 1972, the United Nations General Assembly named June 5 as World Environment Day. And Afghanistan, like other countries in the world, wants to play an active role in improving the environment.

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