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$1.5m worth goods smuggled from Pakistan; Corruption, extortion is core reason: Alkozai

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: Private sector of Afghanistan has expressed deep concerns over what they say corruption and extortion paved the way for smuggling of goods, worth $1.5 billion from Pakistan to the country annually.

Mr. Khan Jan Alkozai, Deputy of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said this on Monday and putted corruption and extortion ahead of private sectors as core reason behind smuggling of 1.5 billion goods from Pakistan through Kunar-Helmand crossing points between Kabul and Islamabad.

Speaking in Private Sector’s National Coordination Conference, Alkozai said there is 1.5 billion legal commercial deal and importation from Pakistan annually, but at the same time at around 1.5 billion goods smuggled.

He said corruption and extortion are one of the main factors behind smuggling goods that helps traders to escape paying taxes. 

He called on security sectors including police, mayors, attorneys, governors, their spokesmen, and provincial council members to have close watch over private sectors containers not as a tidy sum of income.

“Only sending letter could not address the issues, we want serious and practical steps to curb the aforementioned problems.” Currently 1500 containers being stopped in Torkham crossing points, he added.  

Government should strive hard to curb issues of corruption, extortion to prevent smuggling goods particularly from Pakistan and Iran, he insisted.

Pointing toward lack of facilities, including scanner, warehouses, weighing machine and standard systems, he said, adding the government must make standard custom offices.

Broking is another challenge where out of 100 percent of traders expenditure over goods only 30 percent goes to the government budget and the rest ended up to the personal pockets, he claimed.

“Even traders don’t have the authority to rent a truck by own for carrying goods to custom office, there is some figures, who forcedly ask them to rent their trucks, which are substandard and create challenges during weighing in some provinces.”

Meanwhile in his briefing in the same event, Head of Industry Chambers Shirbaz Kaminzada said smuggling of goods severely impede domestic industries.

He said the Afghan people in the wake of insecurity, have dared to invest inside the country to bolster up home-made products and able to create job opportunities, but smuggling goods negatively impact over these investments and reduce job creation.

Smuggling must be prevented by seriously punishing the smugglers, he said, adding such movies important to improve domestic products.

Meanwhile Acting Minister of Finance and Chief Advisor on Infrastructure to the President Ashrf Ghani, Humayon Qaiomi said running “Private Sector’s National Coordination Conference” was aimed to discuss challenges private sectors have been facing and also to find solutions.

He said the Ministry of Finance in coordination with the private sectors and other relevant organs would not spare any efforts to resolve the challenges.

Toward broker and other issues in custom offices, he said the ministry would attempt to cope these challenges.     

“Ensuring coordination with private sectors would make possible to implement customs tariffs through consultation with national traders and all sectors involved in private businesses in a better way.”

He called on private sectors to work with the Ministry of Finance in  these areas to implement customs tariffs law, transfer of cargos, preventing false declaration of goods and smuggling and providing original customs documents.

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