‘90% of Herat customs tax lost to fraud’: Governor
KABUL (Tolo News): Herat governor Waheed Qatali says that 90% of Herat customs income is stolen by the mafia in the province, who also operate in the Kabul and Islam Qala customs.
The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, also called MEC, in a report on June 29 found alleged interference by government officials, MPs and “warlords” in the activities of the two departments and says they have provided conditions for corruption in the two offices. The report said there is a difference in numbers provided by officials and exporter countries on exports and imports between Afghanistan and other nations. For instance, the report says, the UAE’s data on imports and exports with Afghanistan was 14 times more than the figures provide by the revenue and customs departments. This is due to improper implementation of mutual agreements and memoranda of understanding.
According to the Herat governor, recently dozens of vehicles carrying goods were stopped by security forces in Herat but all of them entered the province without paying customs duties. This is an odd statement by a government official in Herat as there were reports about corruption in customs offices of the province, but less was said about it by relevant officials.
He said the mafia groups are taking tens of millions of afghanis from Herat customs by mafia groups in Kabul and Herat. “Ten percent of traders who are here pass their goods (through the customs office) and 90% others is given to the mafia and are paying Afs50,000 (647) for each Afs3 million ($38,835) worth goods,” Qatali told a press conference in Herat city.
A similar statement was made by two provincial council members from Herat who said some government officials are also “involved” in corruption in Herat customs. “Up to Afs40 million to Afs50 from the country’s national revenue is embezzled. Those who commit corruption is part of a big group. High-ranking officials are also involved, from here to the center (Kabul). Those who give them appreciation letters do not know what they have done to Herat customs,” said Toryalai Taheri, deputy head of Herat provincial council.
“We have seen many times that delegations have come from Kabul to Herat but have had no result. I think that the government does not have a real will to fight corruption at the Islam Qala customs in Herat,” said Mohammad Sardar Bahaduri, a member of Herat’s provincial council. The private sector in Herat said the bypassing of the customs duties has affected the country’s domestic products.
“The import of smuggled goods through open borders and corruption in customs is a poison to the country’s industries,” said Hamidullah Khadim, head of Herat Industries and Mines Chamber. Herat activists, meanwhile, criticized MPs for awarding the Herat customs chief an appreciation letter amid reports of alleged corruption in his office. “The Herat customs chief is member of a political party and is supported by this party and tries to misuse his position,” said Jawad Hameed, a civil society activist in Herat.
Herat customs chief Hamdullah Hamdard in a communication with TOLOnews rejected the allegations of not charging 90% of customs tax and said the incomes of his office has recently increased to Afs100 million (over $1.2 million) a day from a daily income of Afs30 million ($388,352).