Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: The Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Monday said that domestic revenues had increased by seven percent as compared to the last year.
Minister of Finance Muhammad Eklil Hakemi, who was summoned by the Wolesi Jirga, said the domestic revenues increased five percent beyond the target fixed in the first five months of the fiscal year 2015.
He said that Afs43.32 billion has been collected while the target was Afs41.39 billion in the first five months of the current year which shows seven percent increase as compared to first five months of 2014. However, the minister did not provide data about domestic revenues generated last year.
Change in the tax payment mechanism to bring transparency and increase in tariffs was the main factors behind the increase in revenues, said the minister, adding that the taxes were collected as a whole.
Big, small and medium taxpayers, customs, revenues departments and some ministries are the major revenues generation sources. The revenues were collected transparently, the minister said.
He went on to say that increase in customs duty on cigarette from six percent to 20 percent has also helped the government to have moderate domestic revenue. He said that more revenues are expected if reforms were introduced.
Hakemi rejected the reports about forcing taxpayers to pay more tax. He said the ministry brought unregistered businesses into tax net in the capital city.
“For example, there were 3,475 registered tax payers. A team of experts in the past two months in the seventh police jurisdiction of Kabul City has brought 789 more people into the tax net. As a result, taxes increased from Afs4.2 billion to Afs19.4 billion. The numbers of taxpayers reach from 1,029 to 3,949 in the sixth jurisdiction. Thus, revenue increased from Afs3.6 billion to Afs26.5 billion,” he said.
Speaking about decrease in value of Afghani against the US dollar, the minister said that demand of dollar has increased in the market. He also blamed insecurity in this regard.
The lawmakers said that they were not convinced by the minister. They said that corruption is rampant in the finance ministry, especially in the customs department.
Haji Hashim, member of the National Economy Committee (NEC) of the WJ, said that corruption still exists in the customs department, and many people were not paying taxes. “There are many problems when it comes to collection of taxes. Officials of the income tax department reduce taxes on their own when bribed by the taxpayers,” he said.
He said that duty exemption on goods brought into the country in the name of NATO and other Afghan security organizations has been affecting growth rate of the national economy.
He said that duty on cigarette was decreased to 50%, though the MPs approved 100% increased. This move was aimed to reduce taxes on edible items, he added.
Criticizing the minister for providing misleading information, member of the Financial and Budget Committee (FBC), Muhammad Azem Muhseni, said that dealing in US dollars in the contracts is key reason behind decrease in value of Afghani.