Hairatan port imports down by 60pc -- thanks to insecurity
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The deteriorating security situation has left a crippling impact on trade in the northern region, triggering a 60 percent fall in imports through the Hairatan port of northern Balkh province, officials said on Wednesday.
Businesspeople in Mazar-I-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, verified a huge decline in imports of goods through the Hairatan port as result of the nose-diving security environment over the past three months in the north.
Mohammad Qasim, owner of the Aryana Trading Company in Hairatan, told Pajhwok Afghan News entrepreneurs, taking a risk-averse approach, imported an amount of goods that could be sold on a daily basis.
He said warehouses at the port had long been full of goods in the past, but most of the facilities were currently empty. Increasing insecurity had prompted most of traders not to import commodities through the port, he added.
Qasim, importing steel and other construction materials, confirmed a 90 percent fall in transactions over the past six months. “Previously, we imported 10 trucks of construction materials a month, but now we import only one truck.”
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) officials, meanwhile, complain insecurity in the north is damaging trade not only through the Hairatan port, but all over the country.
Provincial ACCI head Arash Younasi said traders, concerned about the situation, were waiting for improvement of security before investing in big projects.
But food imports remained normal, as all other imports saw a cut of 60 percent, he said, adding insecurity in the northern region, particularly fighting in Kunduz province, had worried investors.
This situation had also left a crippling impact on national revenues, which could also affect the annual budget, Younasi warned, calling for the authorities to pay greater heed to the restoration of security.
However, Balkh Customs Director Abdul Sattar Sarhal said there was no decrease in the provincial revenue over the past two months. The department collected 403 million afghanis last month, the same amount it realised in October 2014.
But Haji Mayel, a provincial council member and trader, explained the revenue stayed stable because of increased taxes on imports.
For example, he said, tax on some goods, which was 100,000 afghanis in the past, had jumped to 150,000 afghanis. “We don’t refuse paying this bloated tax, but we want the government to improve the security situation.”
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