Debate over Corruption at Customs
KABUL – Speaking to the Washington Times, Deputy U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Jarrett Blanc said that ongoing corruption in Afghanistan customs offices has undermined much needed revenues. However, the Afghan Ministry Finance (MoF) has disputed those claims. Custom incomes are considered one of the biggest sources of revenue for the Afghan government, which does not make as much off taxes as many other governments do. Mr. Blanc has maintained there has been a noticeable drop in those incomes in direct relation to corruption within the customs department.
Corruption has been a growing issue in Afghanistan over the years, but with the U.S.-led coalition prepared to withdraw by December, concerns about its effect on the future of the Afghan economy have heightened. “Recent shortfalls in revenue collection are troubling, and reflect a number of factors, including a general slowdown in the economy,” Mr. Blanc said in a written statement. “We have seen some steps by the Afghans in recent months to address domestic revenue collection, though there is much more work to be done…There is no question that corruption remains a fundamental challenge in Afghanistan.”
Mr. Blanc maintained nearly half of all public income has been embezzled at customs offices. Meanwhile, Afghan officials from the Finance Ministry have disputed his claims that corruption is the major force behind declining revenues at customs offices. According to MoF spokesman Abdul Qadir Jailani, negative speculations about the Afghan market have caused the downturn, not increased corruption.
“The main reason behind the declining incomes is not corruption, but the speculations and negative propaganda against the government of Afghanistan, particularly surrounding the elections,” Jailani said on Tuesday. “Last year, we set a 114 billion AFG target for custom incomes and we received 109 billion dollars,” he added. (Tolonews)