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Millions of US dollars daily smuggled to Iran

Millions of US dollars daily smuggled to Iran

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Jun 20, 2018 - 15:06

HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): Two to three million US dollars are being transferred to Iran from Afghanistaninfo-icon’s western zone on a daily basis, officials and moneychangers claim.

Bahauddin Rahimi, head of the Moneychangers Union (MCU) and Chamber of Industries and Mining in western Herat province, told Pajhwok Afghan News that most of Afghan citizens were trying to transfer American dollars to Iran after the US exit from the Iran nuclear deal and imposing new sanctions. The move also declined the value of Iranian Toman.

Rahimi said Afghanistan’s law allowed its citizens to send $20,000 or equivalent in value currency out of the country while Iran’s law prohibited citizens from sending or bringing in above $10,000.

He said the transfer of $10,000 earned an individual 1.5 million Tomans profit to and therefore hundreds of Afghans daily went to Iran with dollars.

He expressed concern over the smuggling of dollars through border areas in Shindad district of Herat, Farah and Nimroz provinces.

Rahimi said currently one US dollar was accounted for 6,000 Toman in Herat bazaar, but in Iranian bazaar one US dollar was exchanged for 6,150 Toman thus the transfer of every $10,000 meant 1.5 million Toman profit. On a daily basis, 700 to 800 people traveled to Iran, most of them transferring dollars.

Rahimi said the smuggling had increased dollar’s value in Herat markets which resulted in depreciation of the afghani against the American currency and increase in prices of all necessary items.

Hameedullah Khadem head of the industries and mining chamber, also expressed concern over the devaluation of Toman.

He said the Iranian currency was losing value with each passing day and the Iranians were striving to keep dollars instead of Toman.

“After the US pullout from the Iran nuclear deal and enforcement of new sanctions against Tehran, the Iranian currency lost its value and Iranians have been trying to import more dollars as a backup to their currency.”

He said there were no exact figures for the amount being transferred to Iran on a daily basis but the fact was that it had become a business in recent past.  “Iran is a transit trade route for Afghan goods and services via Bandar-i-Abbas.”

Khadim said the Abbas port --- a major one in the region and Afghanistan --- was used for most of the country’s imports.

He said they faced problems while transporting goods to international companies through the Abbas port because of international sanctions on Iran. “This problem also persists at Iran’s Chabahar port.”

He added the reduction in Iranian currency’s value led to a cut in Iranian exports and industrialists were unable to compete with goods imported to Iran.

On the other hand, Haji Zulmai Bahaduri, head of Pamir Cola Drinks and Energy company in Herat, told Pajhwok that US sanctions against Iran had directly affected their business.

He said they were unable to receive raw materials from European and Asian countries to Afghanistan through the Abbas port after US sanctions on Iran.

Bahaduri said Pakistaninfo-icon’s Karachi port was also used for Afghanistan imports but it had many problems compared to the Abbas port.

He expressed concern over the falling value of Iranian currency and the transfer of US dollars to Iran and said they were unable to compete with Iranian products imported to Afghanistan.

He added his factory was working day and night before sanctions imposed on Iran but now the factory worked only during day, which also sometimes faced suspension.

GhulambSarwar, a resident of Herat who runs a small business and informally transfers US dollars and goods to Iran and imports some goods from the neighbor country to Herat, said he owned a business passport and traveled to Iran once in two months.

He said he transferred 6,000 to 8,000 USD and some goods to Iran while traveling to that country.

Sarwar said Iran allowed transfer of up to 10,000 USD at once and he earned 1.5 million Iranian tomans profit by transferring that money.

Aziz Ahmad, (not a real name), is a resident of Herat who owns a transit vehicle and transfers passengers from Herat to Iran’s Mashhad. He said he used to transfer up to 6,000 USD from Herst to Iran and imported paste, dairies and clothes from there.

A number of Herat money changers said most of the money was transferred to Iran by ordinary people who then imported some goods in exchange.

They said USD transfer from Afghanistan to Iran was one of the reasons behind the reducing Afghan currency value against the USD.

Abdul Zahir, a moneychanger in Khurasan Market in Herat said, “The government can control the USD transfer to Iran by checking people on the border.”

Sher Agha, another moneychanger in Herat, said: “Transfer of USD from Afghanistan to other countries has definitely affected the afghani.”

Governor’s spokesman, Jilani Farhad, stressed the need for supporting the private sector and said the local administration had not been allowing trafficking of dollars to Iran over the past several years. He said strict measures were in place on the border to prevent illegal money transfer to Iran.

mds/nh/ma

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