The acting finance minister Dr. Humayoun Qayoumi has utilized presidential power to restrict the security and detective institutions’ authorities to interfere in the affairs of the ministry’s operational units including the customs houses.
A formal letter issued by finance ministry, a copy of which is available with Khaama Press, states that the security and detective institutions including the Attorney General’s Office, Natioanl Directorate of Security and Intelligence Directorate of Interior Ministry cannot interfere in the affairs of the units of ministry of finance, specifically in the affairs of the Customs Houses.
The letter issued on 11th of June, highlights similar directives which were issued in a similar letter on 6th of March 2016.
The letter also states that the directives are being issued as per the cabinet directives and President Ghani’s instructions which were issued on 10th of October 2014.
Meanwhile, the latest letter states that the security and detective institutions do not have the right to assess and overview the operations of the revenue departments.
Presidential runners’ reaction:
The leakage of the document has sparked an uproar among the presidential candidates, media advocates and political analysts.
Presidential runner Dr. Faramurz Tamana said such restriction is a testimony to massive tax embezzlements and the incumbent team is using the State funds in its favors in presidential campaigns.
Faramurz further added that the latest letter violates access to information law and raises questions regarding the independence of the judiciary institutions.
Presidential runner Mohammad Haneef Atmar’s office also reacted to the latest letter of the ministry of finance.
Mr. Atmar’s Office in a statement said “This is an illegal step. It is against the constitution to disrupt or interfere with the work of agencies that are responsible for discovering and investigating criminal activity. This amounts to covering up crime. It is also against the citizen’s access to information which is also a constitutional right.”
The statement further added “But we are not surprised by this because this government has consistently shown a lack of respect for our country’s laws and our institutions.”
The statement also added “This behaviour also is responsible for the lack confidence that we have in the election process. Lack of accountability has become a culture and it covers all spheres, from economy to election, everywhere.”
Media and political analysts’ reaction:
Abdul Mujeeb Khelwatgar, the Director of Nai which supports open media in Afghanistan said the acting minister of finance has completely acted above the law which is against the constitution of Afghanistan.
He also added that the move is a major blow to democracy and civil rights in Afghanistan and the acting minister could be jailed in a country where accountability exists.
Khelwatgar further added that the Presidential Palace has always turned a blind eye to the violations committed by the finance minister and ministry of finance.
Jawid Kohistani, one of the political analysts of Afghanistan said the incumbent illegitimate government is attempting to deviate the public opinion in a bid to have control over it.
This comes as Ghani has long been emphasizing on transparency, good governance and access to information, claiming that respect to freedom of speech is one of the major achievements of his government.