Customs revenue lines pockets of some individuals
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): A number of residents and officials alleged the customs revenue collected in southeastern Paktia province is lining the pockets of commissioners and other local government servants.
The goods imported from Pakistan through the Gardez-Dand-i-Patan route are taxedbefore they reach the market. But drivers claim the authorities are encouraging them to use illegal routes for goods transportation.
Jan Mohammad, a trucker, told Pajhwok Afghan News that commissioners traveling in black-filmed vehicles were supported by local officials.“These commissioners guide drivers to use sub-roads and avoid paying the customs duty.”
Another driver frequenting the route, Alam Afridi, confirm: “We bypass the Dand-i-Patan custom check but have to deal with the commissioners; we have to tolerate many problems at night, but we don’t have any other options.”
“My name is Meraj. We transport goods via the roads commissioners want us to use. These roads also damage our trucks, but the duty that should be paid to the customsdepartment is collected by commissioners,” confirmed another driver.
Public representatives also confirmed the custom revenue was ending up in the pockets of some individuals.Mohammad Ibrahim Ghashtali, a lawmaker form Paktia, said agents of corrupt officials were having a field day.
He accused local officials of involvement in illegal activities and said: “Touts of senior officials pocketed the customs duty and allowed people to use smuggled vehicles. However, we are investigatingthe issue.”
A civil society activist, Eng. Sultan Ahmadzai, asked security organs to track such cases and arrest the commissioners. But Customs ManagerHafizullah Kamal denied interference in his department’s affairs.
He said the decrease in revenue was not a sign of corruption but the food items previously imported from Pakistan were currently routed through the north.
“The revenue has fallen because imports of flour are now coming from northern countries, not Pakistan. We have no responsibility if a truck uses other routes for smuggling,” he insisted.
On the other hand, provincial security officials said that they have prevented movement of trucks on subways from the past two weeks. Police chief, Brig. Gen. Qadir Gul Zadran, said they had blocked all other roads that were previously used for smuggling.
“We have increased police mobile teams and surveillance on sub-roads, I assure you no one would be able to cheatthe Paktia Customs Department in the future,” he concluded.
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