Revenue from mines to reach $1.5b in 5 years: Shahrani
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan's annual income from mines would reach $1.5 billion (69 billion afghanis) in five years and $3.5 billion after a decade and half, a cabinet minister told Parliament on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Mines has framed a policy to increase the annual revenue from extraction of mines, Wahidullah Shahrani told senators. The policy will be presented to the Cabinet next month.
The income that stood at $14 million two years ago soared to $84 billion in 2010, the minister said, adding 80 percent of the revenue would be spent on fundamental projects.
The remainder would go to the ministry's general budget. "We want to use the income for executing fundamental development projects," he continued.
Shahrani promised thousands of people would be provided work opportunities if the income was spent on such basic projects as could usher a new era of prosperity in Afghanistan.
He said the policy underlined transparency in contracts with foreign firms. People would be informed through media of the details of contracts, 48 hours after they were signed. Prevent wrongdoing in contracts was identified as a priority.
Khaliqdad Baghi, a lawmaker from Kabul, alleged most mines were being exploited by non-professional people and reserves smuggled abroad, but the government had failed to prevent the practice.
Shahrani replied their major problem was lack of funds and professionals. Under the new policy, a portion of income would be utilised for training mine workers.
Another legislator, Rafiullah Haideri, criticised the ministry for lacking branches in most of the 34 provinces.
Senator Gul Ahmad Azmi, from western Farah province, claimed mafia had more access to mines than the government itself. He asked the minister to conduct a survey to assess the actual worth of mines. He said no study had been conducted over the past 30 years.
Shahrani said the interior ministry had pledged providing 8,000 policemen for the security of mines. Police help would enable the ministry to get rid of smuggling. Last year, a US study put at $1trillion Afghanistan's mine deposits.
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