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Editorial: Heed MEC recommendations!

A recent report has revealed that interference in the affairs of customs and revenue departments have resulted in widespread corruption while violation of rules and regulations in appointments in the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has been cited to have caused drastic differences in statistics of export and import of the country. Compiled by the primary anti-graft institution in Afghanistan, the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), the report on corruption vulnerabilities in MoF’s Customs and Revenue Departments came following stinging criticism directed towards the government. Earlier this month, the government was accused of obstructing the release of two important reports on the corruption and irregularities at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and at the National Procurement Authority (NPA). Also, there were news stories that said the head of the Dispute Resolution Board was appointed illegally, besides some lawmakers claiming that appointments at MoF took place on the bases of back door deals. However, it seems the media discharged its duty after all as one of these obstructed reports has now been released while the other on NPA is expected soon. Thus, the claims regarding corruption at MoF have now been substantiated and its causes revealed by the searing MEC report. The major findings include interferences by powerful individuals, violation of recruitment procedures, wrong statistics of export and import, and lack of awareness on global transit guidelines. These issues should be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly because they have dire repercussions for Afghanistan. For instance, according to MEC, the United Arab Emirates’ trade with Afghanistan is 14 times higher than the statistics reported by the Customs and Revenue Departments. Therefore, the 73 recommendations suggested by MEC to custom offices in areas of legal framework, human resource management, information system, procedures and internal control system should be heeded in order to address corruption vulnerabilities in these areas and remove threats. Moreover, at this juncture, the government should spring into action and prove that it has a strong will to fight corruption and its slogans and calls for reforms aren’t just nominal. Similarly, the new leadership of MoF introduced by President Ashraf Ghani should consider all these vulnerabilities and sincerely work for reforms and end corruption at the ministry once and for all.

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