Latest amendment to mining law criticised
The amendment to Article 29 of the law allows a mining contract to change hands in principal.
The new mining bill was signed into law by then President Hamid Karzai in late April after being endorsed by parliament after a long delay.
However, the government once again tabled the law in parliament with some amendments in November.
Obaidullah Ramin, who heads Wolesi Jirga’s natural resources commission, said the government had sought amendments to two articles and two clauses.
But the lower house agreed to amend only Article 29 with a series of limitations on the subject and rejected changes to other articles and clauses, he said.
After the amendment, he said, now a company could sell a contract only when the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum keenly observed the selling process.
But mining experts say the amendment will allow opportunists to make money and fuel corruption in the mining sector.
Ibrahim Jafari, a geologist, said the transfer of mining contract from one hand to another could undermine extraction activities and lead to increased project costs besides paving the ground for corruption.
He said contracts changed hands in other countries as well, but the situation in Afghanistan was different.
Saifullah Sihon, an economist and teacher at Kabul University, also expressed his concern over the amendment.
He said transfer of contracts could affect national interest and allow self-centered individuals to take advantage.
He said the first contractor should be held responsible if the contract was not properly implemented.
But Obaidullah Ramin said negative and positive aspects of a law could be better judged at the time of its implementation.
He said every law could have shortcomings and negative aspects if thoroughly studied. He said they approved the amendment after a prolonged debate and consideration.
Jafari defended allocation of five percent revenue to provinces where mines were found.
He said the mining areas could face environmental degradation and other problems and funds for infrastructure development of such areas should be considered.
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