By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: Ministry of Finance on Saturday introduced electronic payment of customs duty in order to resolve problems of importers and tackle corruption.
Speaking at the press conference here, Chief of the Afghanistan Customs Department (ACD) said that hereinafter the traders would not be impelled to pay customs duties in the place where their goods are checked and cleared.
Najibullah Wardak said that importers could now pay the duty at any branch of the Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB).
He said the purpose of the e-payment is to accelerate the process of customs duty payment and ensure transparency. Wardak went on to say that all customs departments are connected to the DAB.
“Now the traders got the facility to pay the custom duties wherever in the country they want, without wasting their time. After the payment is received through the bank, the traders will receive a confirmation message. They will not need the commission agents now for the same purpose,” he elaborated.
Deputy Minister of Finance for Revenue and Customs, Gul Maqsood Sabet, said that introduction of the new payment system is to fight corruption and generate more revenue.
According to him, last year the ACD had collected around Afs44 billion in custom duties, and the amount would likely touch Afs48 billion in the current year.
According to media reports, provincial customs staffs contact traders for bribe to reduce the amount of duties. It is a very common practice in the country with no end in sight. Customs officials have assigned specific employees of the department to contact importers and strike a deal with them. Huge amount that could help the government to initiate developmental projects goes under the table.
The deputy chief executive of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Khan Jan Alkozay, said: “I cannot entirely reject the allegations about traders dealing with customs staffs, but there are some powerful people who import the goods through smuggling, particularly from Iran.”
He said that prosecutors from the Attorney General Office were creating challenges for traders in the customs department. Alkozai urged the government to prevent the prosecutors from nosing around in the customs departments.