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MP’s firm owes millions in unpaid billboard tax

MP’s firm owes millions in unpaid billboard tax

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Jun 11, 2017 - 18:39

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Kabul municipality on Sunday said it had failed to collect more than 80 million afghanis in billboard tax, with a lawmaker’s firm owing more than half of the charges.

Rahila Khoistani, head of cultural services at Kabul municipality, told Pajhwok Afghan News the municipality revenue’s from its advertisement billboard service reached 554 million afghanis during the past five years.

She said the municipality had been able to collect 474 million of the revenue, but failed to obtain the remaining 80 million or 5/14 part of the entire amount.

In 1395 solar yearinfo-icon or 2016, the municipality obtained only 106 million of the total 144 million afghanis in revenue and 38 million afghanis payable by 10 companies was yet to be collected, she added.

Kohistani said only four of the 10 companies had promised to pay the taxes in installments to the municipality until the end of current solar year while six other companies that belonged to powerful individuals were still not ready to pay their unpaid taxes.

However, she did not name the defaulters.

Ghulam Rassoul Qarlaq, head of Hindukosh Advertisement Company, said: “Economic downturn has caused us to remain in debt of 8.6 million afghanis to the municipality, but we were able to pay 4.4 million of it and would pay the rest during the current year.”

“Five of our billboards were destroyed in the past few months, but the municipality says we have to pay their taxes no matter the billboards are useable or not, this case damages advertisement companies,” he said.

He said the amount of taxes in billboards service in rural areas and urban areas was not fair, urging the municipality to review the related law.

But Rahila Khoistani, about the concerns of advertisement companies, said the law on urban taxes had problems and it needed amendments.

About other unpaid taxes, Khoistani said an advertisement company, Mashal owned by lawmaker Almas Zahid, was not ready to pay more than 42 million afghanis in tax from 1391 to 1395.

“The real amount of unpaid taxes of this company is 39 million afghanis, but the amount increased due to addition of annual fines, we want the attorney’s general office to help us in the recovery of our taxes,” she said.

She said Almas Zahid had sold the Mashal Advertisement Company to another person who said the unpaid taxes did not belong to him but to the previous owner of the company.

Kohistani said the person who guaranteed the company was also absent. Despite several efforts, Pajhwok was unable to establish a contact with Almas Zahid for clarification on the issue.

According to Kohistani, there are 1,130 billboards in Kabul city, with belonging to the municipality.

Each square meter of a billboard in the first grade areas is charged 5,000 afghanis and in second, third and fourth grade areas 4,000 afghanis and 3,000 afghanis, she said.

However, she said 391 billboards were currently out of control of the municipality and paid no taxes.

“Of the billboards that do not pay taxes, 45 belong to the Ministry of Defense, 18 to Marshal Qasim Fahim Foundation, 10 to Ahmad Shah Massoud Foundation, 58 billboards to the Ministry of Public Healthinfo-icon (MoPH), Environmentinfo-icon Protection Authority, Afghanistaninfo-icon Red Crescent Societyinfo-icon and Firefighting Department,” she said.

She said the Kabul municipality had several times asked the above mentioned organs through letters to pay their taxes, but none of them responded positive so far.

However, Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman to the Ministry of Defense (MoD), said that 45 billboards of the ministry were installed in areas belonged to the ministry.

He said the MoD was not responsible to pay annual taxes of its billboards to the municipality. A letter was also sent to the presidential palace to exempt the MoD from any types of taxes about billboards, but the letter was yet to be responded, he said.

Rahila Kohistani said the municipality had started removing 260 billboards that did not pay taxes and belonged to powerful individuals.  She said 60 of such billboards had been removed during the past one month.

mds/ma

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