Hekmatyar’s $4b telecom revenue claim is incorrect
Mostly False - September 25, 2019

Hekmatyar’s $4b telecom revenue claim is incorrect

KABUL (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News findings show presidential candidate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s claim to increase customs revenue is correct to some extent but his claim to surge the telecommunications sector’s income to $4 billion is incorrect.

During an interview on September 22 with Shamshad Television, Hekmatyar, the Peace and Islamic Justice team leader, said: “Hand over these customs offices to Hezb-i-Islami, we will ensure its security and submit $3 billion revenue annually to the state, we will not put the remaining amount in our pockets but will spend it in areas of our choice.”

“Hand over the telecommunication sector to us, we will offer the best quality services to the people and provide $4 billion in come to the state,” he had claimed.

Current annual revenue of customs departments:

According to Finance Ministry spokesman Shmrez Khan Masjidi, during the first nine months of current solar year, the revenue reached 136.4 billion afghanis.

He did not talk about the capacity of customs departments, but added “In the past four years, customs departments revenue has surged by 10 to 15 percent annually and the purpose of Finance Ministry is to get maximum advantage of the capacities of customs departments in increasing the revenue.”

In line with statistics of the Finance Ministry, on average, 6.5 billion afghanis are collected from customs departments.

Surge in revenue is possible:

Jan Aqa Navid, Chamber of Commerce and Investment department spokesman, said the biggest issue was insecurity which had created problems in revenue collection.

“Corruption, smuggling routes, tax evasion, customs irregularities and other issues are hampering our revenue collection”, he said.

He said if the existing issues were resolved and the revenue collection system computarised, the current level of revenue could be surged by two folds.

Qais Mohammadi, a university teacher, also termed insecurity, corruption, tax evasion, use of power and smuggling goods as main hurdles in the way of revenue collection.

He added besides insecurity, corruption such as intentionally creating faults in scanner machines, allowing some vehicles before customs formalities by corrupt police and some other low-paid officials are other issues contributing to in the decline in revenue.  He said the revenue could jump to $2 billion if the existing issues were addressed.

Pajhwok Afghan News findings show that Hekmatyar’s claim in this regard is somehow correct.

Telecommunications Revenue:

According to the Ministry of Finance, last year the revenue of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology was above 8.7 billion afghanis, with 3.8 billion afghanis coming from the 10 percent tax on mobile credit cards.

In the past nine months, the MoCIT revenue reached 4.7 billion afghanis, in which 2,5 billion generated from the ten percent tax on mobile credit cards.

Sher Shah Nawabi, advisor to MoCIT, said if there was peace and stability in the country, the telecommunication revenue could surge four to six times from the current figures.

In line with statistics with the Finance Ministry, the revenue of telecommunication could surge up to $406 million.

Regarding telecommunications revenue, Mohammadi said: “It is not possible to get around $4 billion revenue from telecommunication sector and hand it over to the state because Afghanistan doesn’t have much population to attract greater market for telecommunication. Only 20 million people have access to telecommunication, so it is difficult to get that much revenue from 20 million customers.”

He said around $1 billion revenue could be gained from telecommunication sector if there was peace and stability in the country.

According to the above statistics, if the existing problems are resolved, Afghanistan could get $700 milliion revenue annually, but Hekmatyar claimed he could collect 5.6 times higher of $700 million revenue from telecommunications.

Pajhwok Afghan News findings show Hekmatyar’s assertion in this regard is incorrect.

Pajhwok analyzes commitments of presidential candidates to show the people that these pledges fall under correct, incorrect, half correct, half incorrect categories. Hekmatyar’s assertion regarding increase in government revenue falls under incorrect category.

Hekmatyar’s $4b telecom revenue claim is incorrect

Ahmad shah Erfanyar

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