Substandard fuel imports, price hike worry MPs
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Wolesi Jirga (WJ) -- or lower house of parliament -- on Wednesday expressed concern over imports of substandard petroleum products in the country and a surge in prices of food items.
The house called finance, commerce and agriculture ministers and others to brief lawmakers on a recent hike in rates of daily-use commodities and imports of low-quality petroleum products.
Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal told the august house the ministry had levied small duties on the import of food items.
Agriculture Minister Muhammad Asif Rahimi said agricultural yield was satisfactory throughout the country with the exception of some provinces.“Better agriculture yield leaves positive impact on prices of food items and this year we have better crop.”
The hike in prices of potatoes and rice could not be justified, he noted, acknowledging: “Unemployment, capital flight and the stability of the dollar against the afghani leave a negative impact on prices of daily-use commodities.”
Muhammad Shakir Kargar, minister of trade and commerce, said prices of liquefied gas had been increased during the last ten days. Gas smuggling from Afghanistan to other countries was the main factor for surge in its prices, he added.
He said his ministry had a comprehensive plan to bring lower the prices of gas by importing more liquefied gas from Turkmenistan. He said one kilogram gas was being sold in open market at the rate of 70 afghanis to 75 afghanis while his ministry sold the same amount at 55 afghanis.
The Commerce Minister added poor security situation in the country and high prices in the international market were main reasons behind price hike of petroleum products. He acknowledged that the state had no control on the market and alleged that some traders were hoarding certain products to create fake shortage.
Popalzai Popal, head of the Afghanistan National Standard Authority (ANSA), revealed it did not have the mandate to assess the standard and quality of food, medicine and cosmetic materials. He claimed that petroleum products were regularly tested at various laboratories on all the borders to ensure sub-standard material was not imported to the country.
Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, speaker of the house, expressed concerns over the briefing of the ministers, complaining the ministries concerned failed to bring down prices of food and petroleum products lower.
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