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Biden unlikely to release frozen Afghan assets anytime soon

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

The Biden administration does not plan to release billions of dollars of Afghan government assets held by the country’s central bank anytime soon, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, Tom West said Monday.

Citing concerns the funds could end up in the hands of terrorists after the leader of al-Qaeda was killed while hiding out in Kabul, West said: “We do not see recapitalization of the Afghan central bank as a near-term option.”

He said “the Taliban’s (IEA) sheltering of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reinforces deep concerns we have regarding diversion of funds to terrorist groups.”

CNN reported that a National Security Council spokesperson said “there has been no change” in efforts to get the funds to the Afghan people, but cited Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul as having a direct impact on how the administration deals with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

“We have been engaged with foreign counterparts in efforts to support the establishment of an international trust fund with robust safeguards to enable the use of Afghan reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people given Afghanistan’s ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis,” the NSC spokesperson said.

“We have made considerable progress and our focus right now is on supporting the establishment of this fund. The recent revelations of the Taliban’s (IEA) flagrant violation of the Doha agreement illustrate the importance of remaining clear-eyed in our dealings with the Taliban. Our approach to the future of these assets will continue to reflect that reality.”

This decision not to move on the releasing of the funds anytime soon comes about six months after US President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing for the $7 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan’s central bank to eventually be distributed inside the country and to potentially fund litigation brought by families of victims of the September 11 terror attacks.

The funds were frozen by the US government after the Afghan government collapsed last year and the IEA took over control of the country.

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IEA’s Ministry of Finance: The recent report of SIGAR is far from the truth

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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2023)

The Ministry of Finance of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) considered the recent report of “SIGAR” about companies and institutions in Afghanistan to be far from the truth and rejected it.

In the announcement that was published by this ministry on Sunday (5th January), it is stated: “The Office of the Special Inspector General of the United States of America for Afghanistan “SIGAR” has claimed in its quarterly report to the US Congress that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, receives money from those organizations and institutions that work in the field of humanitarian aid; under the license fee, tax and administrative fees, which provide a large part of Afghanistan’s revenue The Ministry of Finance of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers the said report to be far from the truth and rejects it separately.”

“The Ministry of Finance has exempted those organizations and institutions that are active in the field of humanitarian aid, No money is received from them, and no administrative expenses are imposed on them.” Read the ministry statement.

The Ministry of Finance has also added that in all the country’s customs, the customs tariff of the goods imported by these organizations and institutions has reached zero, and the goods of the mentioned institutions enter the country without tax.

According to this ministry, only license fee is taken from foreign organizations and institutions, which is a small amount and has a legal framework and is balanced with other countries and has no effect on Afghanistan’s national income.

The Ministry of Finance has assured that the organs of the Islamic Emirate, including the Ministry of Finance, provide administrative, financial and security facilities for the organizations and institutions that operate in the field of humanitarian aid and are committed to all their promises in this field and in the distribution and sending of humanitarian aid they are partners with them.

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Flour mill opens in Herat province

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce says that a new flour mill has opened and is now operational in Herat province.

Afghan Industry and Commerce Minister Nooruddin Azizi, inaugurated the flour mill, which is privately owned, on Saturday in the presence of an accompanying delegation.

According to the ministry, Azizi thanked the business owner for investing in the mill, which was built in Phase 1 of Herat Industrial Park at a cost of $1.2 million.

The flour mill will be able to produce 180 tons of flour per day, and has provided employment for more than 700 people.

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Afghanistan, Pakistan sign draft convention to avoid double taxation

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(Last Updated On: February 4, 2023)

Afghanistan and Pakistan have signed a draft convention to avoid double taxation between the two countries.

The convention was signed after three-day talks concluded in Islamabad on Friday, Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue said in an announcement.

The Afghan delegation was headed by Revenue Legal Services Director Nida Muhammad Seddiqi while FBR’s International Tax Operations DG Sajidullah Siddiqui headed the Pakistani delegation.

The sides thoroughly deliberated over all the outstanding issues identified during the second round of negotiations held in Islamabad from 27th-30th December, 2021.

FBR Chairman Asim Ahmad thanked the Afghan delegation for visiting Pakistan and expressed optimism that the convention will further strengthen economic relations between the two countries.

Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan welcomed the move as “another important step forward.”

“It took us some 12 years to cross this milestone. Investors, contractors and businesses on both sides will benefit significantly,” Mohammad Sadiq said on Twitter.

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