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Watchdog Reports Corruption in Customs Offices

30 Jun 2020 Tolo News

The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, also called MEC, in a new report on areas vulnerable to corruption found eight key conditions that affect reforms.

The report has assessed the two general directorates of the Ministry of Finance: the customs department and the revenue department.

The report finds alleged interference by government officials, MPs and “warlords” in the activities of the two departments and says  they have provided conditions for corruption in the two offices.

The report says there is a difference in numbers provided by officials and exporter countries on exports and imports between Afghanistan and other nations. For instance, the report says, the UAE’s data on imports and exports with Afghanistan was 14 times more than the figures provide by the revenue and customs departments. This is due to improper implementation of mutual agreements and memoranda of understanding.

The report also finds “gaps” in human resources management in the Ministry of Finance that includes serious violations in regulations on the appointments of civil service employees.

The report says there is a lack of electricity supply in customs offices that affects the taxpayers’ collection system and hinders operations.

It also says that scanners in border crossings and scales in customs offices are not active due to a lack of electricity.

The report also says that customs officials lack the required capacity to adhere to guidelines of the World Customs Organization to control transit goods and prevent unnecessary delays with imports and exports.

The report covers assessments from July to November 2019 from group interviews, direct monitoring and the review of documents in Kabul, Nangarhar and Balkh provinces.

MEC officials, who presented the report at an event on Sunday, said they have not been able to assess all the issues at Torkham customs due to “threats and obstruction by customs officials there.”
 
“There are cases at the Attorney General’s Office from customs that have been left there for years,” said Maiwand Rouhani, head of the MEC secretariat.

According to the officials, strongmen are extorting money from customs officials by death threats and kidnapping them. Also, they are extorted by other government officials, according to the findings.

MEC findings show that goods are taken out of the country by smuggling and by use of forged documents.

“The imports have been under-registered...from 10 goods, one has been registered and nine others have been smuggled (into the country),” said Ajmal Shakir, a researcher at MEC.

The Ministry of Finance spokesman, Shamroz Khan Masjidi, said efforts have been made to ensure reforms in the ministry.

“The Afghan government leadership and the leadership of the Ministry of Finance and our technical team are committed to bringing reforms, whether it takes less or more time,” he said. “We have started the process of bringing reforms in taxes as well as at the ministry (of finance), we have announced all vacancies in a free competition.”

Original Link: https://tolonews.com/index.php/business/watchdog-reports-corruption-customs-offices

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