FILE: Afghan Ministry of Finance building.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan owes $1.4 billion in debt to foreign countries and major financial institutions, according to officials, amid economic doenturn in the country.  

A senior official of the Ministry of Finance said that Kabul has paid more than $6 million in debts to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“We are in debt at around $1.4 billion since the time of republic government,” said Nasratullah Mahmood, general director of the treasury of the Ministry of Finance, as TOLOnews quoted. “It is not necessary to pay them in a short time.”

“The debt is for 30, 40 and even a 45-year period which will be paid gradually,”

According to officials, border customs contribute to a much bigger part of the government’s overall revenue, calling for transparency and proper documentation of the procedures.

Abdul Matin Saeed, head of the customs office of the MoF, said that the transit of commodities at Afghan borders has increased comparing previous years.

“During the former government in a period of five months, the imports were worth 177 billion Afs, but now over the past five months, the import is around 222 billion Afs,” Saeed said, as local media quoted.

Based on the available numbers of the MoF, Afghanistan made $151 million in revenue from its customs offices and other sources over the last year.

“Over one last year, more than 65 billion Afs from taxes have been collected,” said Hedayatullah Badri, acting Minister of Finance.

Meanwhile, Saeed said that dozens of people have been arrested on charges of corruption at customs offices, adding “de have sent them to the court.”

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Last month, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) said it has collected more than 24 billion Afs in revenue from customs offices within the first three months of the fiscal year – a promising figure for a country that has been suffering from financial loose since the fall last August.

“Approximately, so far, more than 24.16 billion Afs has been made in revenue,” said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the MoF, as TOLOnews quoted. “This is good revenue compared to the previous years.”

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said that the exports and imports have had a positive impact on this year’s revenue, adding the surge in exports of coal caused the rise in the country’s annual revenue.  

“The previous year’s first period (three months), the exports were worth nearly $200 million, and it is now more than $400 million,” said Khanjan Alokozai, a member of the ACCI. “Last year, we had one billion dollars in exports and this year I hope it increases to one and half billion dollars.

Meanwhile, Afghan economist expressed joy over the increased revenue, saying such a progress is promising and it could help the country improve its economy amid ongoing concerns about poverty across Afghanistan.

“The exports caused an increase in investment and it helps to develop of the country’s economic status,” said Seyar Qureshi, an economist, as local media quoted.

Based on the available numbers of the MoE, more than five billion Afs from Islam Qala port, 3.5 billon Afs from Torkham crossing, nearly three billon Afs from Spin Boldak were made in revenue for the government within the first three months of the fiscal year, according to the report.

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