Kandahar customs revenue up by 33pc
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The customs department of southern Kandahar province collected nearly one and a half billion afghanis in revenue over the past five months, showing a 33 percent increase, an official said on Tuesday.
Customs Director Syed Jamal Hashmi told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview that the increase was a result of the growth in volume of trade and the implementation of reforms in customs affairs.
He said the Ministry of Finance had set the Kandahar Customs Department two billion and 700 million afghanis target for the ongoing fiscal year, but they collected one billion and 495 million afs during the first five months of the year, showing a 33 percent increase over the target.
He said they had been set the same target for 2014, when they collected two billion and 188 millions, indicating a 19 percent decline compared to revenue collections in 2013.
He said the target for 2013 had been two billion and 500 million afs, but the collections stood at two billion and 22 million afs.
Hashmi said the revenue declined in 2014 due to the political impasse that lasted six months following the June 14 runoff presidential election.
He said the political deadlock had discouraged traders to import necessary food and non-food items, but when the tension faded away and the new government was formed, trade activities increased again.
Another factor behind the increase in revenue was the implementation of reforms in the customs affairs, he said.
He said streamlining administrative affairs at the customs department, installing advanced systems and holding a series of meetings with traders were part of the reforms.
About challenges, Hashmi said besides the border crossing between Kandahar and Pakistan’s Balochistan province, a number of alternate routes were used for smuggling goods into Afghanistan without paying taxes.
He said the issue had been shared with the governor’s house and security forces and it had been requested to prevent the smuggling.
However, he said it would need a lot of work to effectively prevent smuggling of goods into Afghanistan.
In order to combat corruption in revenue collections, the customs director said they had time and again asked traders to submit taxes themselves.
“I would not claim cent percent prevention of corruption, but we have made enough efforts in this regard. We monitor officials and have formed surveillance teams.”
Hashmi said in addition to revenue collections, the customs department was duty-bound to prevent import of low quality and substandard food items in cooperation with the ministries of public health, agriculture and other departments.
He said they did not allow entry to such food items until they were examined by the above mentioned authorities. However, he said the lack of a well-equipped laboratory to test food items and medicines remained the main problem.
Such tests were currently conducted in Kabul and the results took a lot of time and kept the traders waiting.
He revealed the newly-constructed building for the customs office in the Spin Boldak border town cost $22 million, which had been jointly provided by the US and Canada. The building has been constructed over 31 acres of land.
He said the building was equipped with a computerized scale, scanner and other related facilities, which would play a key role in stimulating revenue.
The previous building of the customs office in Spin Boldak was eight kilometers from the Durand Line and in between a large number of storage facilities for goods would enable traders to evade taxes.
Afghan traders import different food items, medicine, garments and essential daily-use items and construction materials from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and several other countries to Pakistan’s sea port of Karachi.
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