Afghanistan revenue has increased, Wolesi Jirga told
KABUL (Pajhwok): Finance Minister Eklil Ahmad Hakimi on Monday ruled out budget deficit and informed the Wolesi Jirga about increase in the country’s revenue and a $2.8 billion aid promised by the international community over the next three years.
The minister was summoned to the lower house to brief lawmakers about development budget spending, the mechanism of revenue collections and other financial issues, but the house members termed Hakim’s explanations as unsatisfactory.
Hakimi told the lower house that World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), United States (US), European Union (EU) and the German government had pledged aid money which would be spent on development projects.
He said the revenue collected during the past two month was exemplary in the past decade. Last year, the total revenue was 99 billion afghanis compared to 94 billion afghanis so far collected this year, he said.
According to Hakimi, currently 35 percent of the development budget had been spent, which would reach to 60-65 percent in the coming two months.
About the cell phone tax, he said, the amount had been collected from mobile companies through a transparent manner and currently 150 million afghanis had been deposited to the government treasury.
The finance minister told the Wolesi Jirga that necessary steps had been taken to bring about reforms within the ministry and to collect rents from state-owned enterprises, connect dry ports with other countries and collect debts in order to further increase the revenue.
He said the revenue could be increased by two or three folds if certain obstacles were removed.
The minister said CCTV cameras would be installed at customs offices and imports and exports would be monitored from the centre of Finance Ministry.
He informed that next year’s meeting of the heads of state and heads of government of NATO member states in Warsaw, Poland, would focus on equipping Afghan security forces.
The minister said that work on the next fiscal year budget was under way and its draft would land in the lower house in a couple of weeks.
Ghulam Frooq Majroh, a lawmaker from western Herat province, said the government should pay more attention to customs departments and increase the revenue by two to four folds so that pressure on people in form of telecom tax could be mitigated.
The Wolesi Jirga has rejected by a majority a presidential decree imposing a 10 percent tax on cell phone-users.
The decree was endorsed by the Council of Ministers during the parliament’s summer recess.
The lower house also ejected by a majority vote two presidential decrees amending income tax and customs laws.
The president had issued the legislative decrees during the parliament’s summer break.
Azim Muhseni, deputy head of the lower house finance commission, said tax on income had been increased from two percent to four percent under the decree.
He said the amendments were against Article 79 of the Constitution under which the president could not issue legislative decrees over financial issues.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said there was no national debt and the country’s revenue had also jumped according to the minister.
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