Jalalabad municipality losing 40pc income to tax evasion
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The newly-appointed mayor for Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, took charge on Tuesday, as the municipality officials say the department’s revenue has declined by 40 percent.
The new mayor, Hamidullah Afghan, speaking at his introduction ceremony here, promised to reverse the trend of declining income.
Afghan was recommended for the mayoral post by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) and was endorsed by the Presidential Palace.
He said his plans included prevention of corruption, computerization of the income collection system, increase in green areas and dealing with crowds and unruly traffic in Jalalabad city.
Deputy Mayor Eng. Hakim confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News the municipality lost 40 percent of its income to tax avoidance.
“We cannot collect 40 percent of the taxes because the returns are being evaded. The major issue is the avoidance of cleanliness tax and the loopholes in tax collections at dry ports. Trade and transport activities have increased, but the income has declined.”
The deputy mayor did not provide figures for the municipality’s annual income, but said the revenue of one dry port last month stood at 10.5 million afghanis.
The new mayor told his inauguration ceremony that he would computerize the tax collection system in order to banish corruption.
He said he would allow no one to commit corruption and he had the plan to expand green areas, urging Jalalabad residents to cooperate with his department in keeping the city clean and collecting taxes.
Also present on the occasion was Governor Salim Khan Kunduzi who said Jalalabad City and its residents often landed in trouble in rainy seasons.
“We should devise good plans for the city. The taxes should be collected in a proper way and in the same way civic services be delivered.”
On the other hand, Nangarhar provincial council secretary Ajmal Omar criticized the government for failing to punish former mayors who had been involved in corruption.
“There is no reward and punishment system. Mayors came and gone with their pockets full of looted money, but no one dared to ask them.”
He hoped the new mayor would introduce a crowd control system in Jalalabad and would deliver civic services to the inhabitants.
Residents also hoped the new mayor would be able to perform his duty with honesty. One of them, Mohammad Zafar, told Pajhwok Afghan News the mayor should relocate bus stands from the city and reclaim footpaths encroached by hand-cart owners.
He said poor families regularly paid cleanliness and other taxes to the municipality, but the rich and powerful always evaded them.
Another resident, Mohammad Zaman, said besides the largest Torkham dry port, there were another two or three ports and transit trade routes in Nangarhar. “But I wonder why the revenue is on the decline, it must be stolen.”
However, the German-educated mayor said he would pay special attention to the city’s development with the help of residents and would prevent all sorts of corruption.
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