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Pay cuts for Ghani and ministers, but pay rises for govt workers

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(Last Updated On: February 15, 2021)

The Ministry of Finance has finally agreed to increase the salaries of government employees, while the president and ministers will all take a pay cut.  

The increased budget spends for government employees has been requested repeatedly by the Wolesi Jirga’s Finance and Budget Commission, which has twice rejected the draft budget on the grounds of salaries and the allocation of emergency funding.

The finance ministry announced on Monday it has allocated an additional 12 billion Afghanis (AFN) to salaries, of which half will be added to the salary fund at the start of the fiscal year (in April) and the balance will be added to the mid-year budget cycle.

Khalid Painda, the acting finance minister, also said the president and ministers will take pay cuts. 

Members of the Wolesi Jirga commission felt however that the full amount should be rolled out immediately but the finance ministry said this was not possible. 

“The salary increase must be accepted as 12 billion Afghanis, and this money for salaries must be paid at the beginning of the fiscal year; in most of the codes (funds) there is extra money, which needs to be reduced and the salaries increased,” said the committee chair Mir Afghan Safi.

The decision to increase the amount allocated to salaries comes after negotiations between the finance and budget committee of parliament and the finance ministry. 

“On the issue of salaries, I promise to get six billion to finance the salaries, and we will implement it in the middle of the year and allocate twelve billion for next year,” said Painda.

In addition to this, members of the commission stated that government must respect the legislative authorities of the House.

“All those institutions that have not gotten a vote of confidence from the parliament are not authorized to sign financial letters, and if they do, they are accountable to the law in financial documents,” said Mohammad Azim Mohssini, a member of the Finance and Budget Commission.

However, Wolesi Jirga members who attended the commission’s meeting said part of the dispute over the draft budget has been resolved but that government needs to agree to other recommendations so that the budget can be tabled in parliament for approval.

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Freight trains to Afghanistan via Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif suspended

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

The Afghanistan Railway Authority has announced that the transportation of goods on the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif railway line from Uzbekistan has been stopped until further notice.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said the railway line from Uzbekistan has been temporarily closed.

He stated that there is no problem in the technical and operational aspects of the Afghan Railways, and added that there was a shutdown by Uzbekistan.

Calling the closure of this railway line temporary, Mujahid asked traders to be patient and import essential goods using the Akina-Andkhoy railway line.

In explaining the reason for the temporary closure of the Hairatan-Uzbekistan railway line, the Afghan Railway Authority noted that it has been working to transfer management affairs of the line for the past three months. The authority also said a delegation from Afghanistan will meet with officials in Uzbekistan in the next few days to finalize the final memorandum on this matter.

Afghan Railway Authority added: “After signing this memorandum, the process of transfers from Hairitan-Mazar-e-Sharif route will start again and will continue normally.”

The Afghanistan Railway Authority announced last month that as a result of negotiations between the Afghan side and officials from Uzbekistan Railways, the responsibilities of the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif railway line were handed over to Afghanistan by Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan Railway Authority said management of the line had for 11 years been provided by an Uzbek company, Sogdiana Trans.

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Iran hoping to establish trade hub in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Iran’s deputy minister of trade Mohammad Mousavi said Tuesday in a meeting that Tehran is considering setting up a trade center in Afghanistan in the near future.

According to Mehr News Agency, Mousavi expressed hope that the establishment of this center will strengthen ties between Kabul and Tehran.

He did not however say where the center would be situated.

Addressing the meeting, titled “Trade opportunities between Afghanistan and Iran” he said Tehran’s wanted to invest in Afghanistan and participate in the country’s “sustainable growth”.

At the same time, Afghan officials have said that the volume of imports from Iran, such as food and fuel, has totalled more than $1 billion so far this solar year (from April 2022).

According to the officials, Afghanistan’s export volume to Iran was much lower and totalled only $20 million.

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Afghanistan’s exports to India total almost $200 million in past 9 months

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(Last Updated On: January 31, 2023)

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) says over the past nine months, Afghanistan has exported goods to India worth $159 million, most of which was asafetida, saffron and pistachio nuts.

The MoIC officials said Tuesday they would try to expand economic relations between Kabul and New Delhi because India can become one of Afghanistan’s major economic partners.

“In the last nine months, our exports to India totalled $159 million,” said Abdul Salam Akhundzada, a spokesman for the MoIC.

According to MoIC’s officials, Afghanistan has imported goods worth $291 million from India in nine months, and the total trade volume is $450 million.

“The important goods we exported were pistachio, cumin, raisins, saffron and asafetida seeds, and we imported sugar, medical spices and various clothes from India,” said Akhundzada.

“And our imports from India totals $291 million.”

However, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) has said that there are currently problems with the export and import of goods from India but once these problems are solved, the trade volume will amount to $1 billion.

Meanwhile, the commodities are being transported from Afghanistan to India and vice versa via the air corridor, Wagah port in Pakistan and Bandar Abbas in Iran.

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