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Afghan precious stones worth $300m annually smuggled

Afghan precious stones worth $300m annually smuggled

Jun 05, 2016 - 19:03

KABULinfo-icon CITY (Pajhwok): Precious and semi-precious stones worth $300 million are illegally excavated in Afghanistaninfo-icon and smuggled to foreign countries annually, an official said on Sunday.

Abdul Bari Rahmani, secretary private sector development at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI), expressed these views during the 4th joint meeting of government departments concerned and private sector representatives relating to excavation of precious stones.

Rahmani told the participants that the government was working on a plan through which excavation of precious stones would be managed. He lamented that currently 80 percent of the precious stones were being illegally excavated.

“The national treasury is annually deprived of $300 million because of the illegal excavation and smuggling of natural riches,” said Rahmani.

He said natural resources were the wealth of the state, but unfortunately precious stones of the country were illegally extracted and smuggled to neighboring countries.

He said there was a dire need for a proper strategy that could bring at a halt illegal mining and protect the minerals from being smuggled through unauthorised channels.

Ahmad Walid Majidyar, deputy head of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), expressed his concern over illegal excavation and smuggling of precious stones.

He said currently Afghanistan earned $17 million from its natural resources and the earning could reach $250-$300 million if smuggling and illegal excavation of precious stones was prevented.

He warned illegal excavation of stones and smuggling would increase if the practices were not discouraged.

According to Majeedyar, Indian and Chinese businessmen were willing to invest in precious stones deposits but the lack of a proper strategy and framework to manage the process remained a hurdle to the investment.

Ghazal Habibyar Safi, acting deputy minister of Mines and Petroleum, said his ministry had prepared a strategy thorough which illegal excavation and smuggling of natural riches could be stopped.

Without going into details, he said currently some precious stones were being exported without processing and asked businessmen to invest in processing of precious stones.



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