Senate wants MTA eliminated
KABUL (PAN): Meshrano Jirga members on Sunday unanimously asked the Cabinet to eliminate the Military Technical Agreement (MTA) between ISAF and the Afghan government that exempts foreign companies contracting with NATO for logistic supplies from paying taxes.
Inked between ISAF and the government in 2002, the MTA exempts NATO clients from paying taxes levied on all other companies operating in Afghanistan.
The agreement has been depriving Afghanistan of billions of dollars of revenue in taxes from these companies over the past ten years, serving a huge blow to the country's economy, the senators argued.
"We had no constitution at the time the agreement was inked," Dr Zalmai Zabuli, a member of the upper house, said. "The accord should be reviewed," he said.
He said there were two types of foreign private companies operating in Afghanistan.
Private contractors, both Afghans and foreigners, provide a range of services to US and NATO forces, including transportation, security, management of dining facilities and sanitation at military bases, training, and construction.
"These foreign private firms should be brought under tax net," Zabuli said.
Supreme, one of the foreign private companies, according to Zabuli, had to pay two billion US dollars in tax to the government." But the company has so far paid only $65 million USD after the house raised the issue," he said.
The international companies are not only avoiding taxes, but also not paying fares for its aircrafts using the Kabul International Airport, he claimed.
Reportedly Supreme was last year forced to pay 500 million afghanis in tax following discussions between NATO and the government.
"Foreign companies allowed by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to provide logistic supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan pay due taxes," Zabuli informed.
There are 1700 foreigners, who lacked documents, have been working in Afghanistan, he said, asking the interior and foreign ministries to identify the individuals.
"Afghanistan could earn billions of dollars in revenue by issuing visa to these individual," he reasoned.
Deputy Senate Chairman Muhammad Alam Izedyar said ISAF aircrafts transferred foreign nationals through its five flights from Bagram to Dubai International Airport every day.
"The foreign nationals commute without visas and travel to different provinces. It must be legalised and foreign nationals must use Afghan airline companies to help promote Afghan economy," he concluded.
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