Expo opens in Kabul showcasing local products

A four-day expo, jointly organized by the Afghan government and the private sector, opened in Kabul on Tuesday showcasing locally made products.

Goods manufactured by over 170 companies went on display including industrial products, agricultural produce, telecommunication goods and handicrafts.

CEO Abdullah Abdullah attended the opening of the expo and said the lack of land, shortage of electricity and the absence of regulated money lending services were the three main challenges in terms of investment in the country.

Abdullah said government has addressed these challenges to some extent and is committed to supporting the private sector.

“If we want to serve our people and lead our country out of the current situation and bring positive changes to people’s lives, then without supporting the private sector it is impossible,” said Abdullah.

A number of factory owners at the exhibition meanwhile said government has failed to provide the fundamental needs for investors and is unable to even safeguard the lives of business owners.

Organizers of the exhibition said such expos will play a vital role in highlighting and overcoming problems faced by the private sector. They asked government to address their problems and to find solutions.  

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Ex-Telecom minister appears in court on corruption charges

The former minister of telecommunication, Abdul Razaq Wahidi, on Monday appeared in court on corruption charges.

At the end of an open trial, the jury decided that more investigations are needed to clarify the allegations.

This was the first time a trial held for a member of Afghanistan’s cabinet while the accused minister called it a “drama” court.

The prosecutor filed charges against Minister Wahidi, accusing him of misuse of his authorities in recruitments and wastage of the 10 percent telecom service fees.

But the defendant denied any wrongdoing and called the former minister of finance, Eklil Hakimi, as the main culprit.

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Telecom tax revenues being stolen by certain individuals

A number of Afghan lawmakers on Monday, criticized the government over failure to form a transparent collection system for the revenues earned via 10 percent telecom tax on mobile phone users, saying the amount of money being stolen by certain individuals.

The members of Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of the parliament said some elements within the government were trying to halt the plan of activating a transparent collection system.

“The issue of having [collection] system of has been started by the Ministry of telecommunication three years ago, but the issue is politicized and some individuals don’t want this system to be activated because the tax money being shared to many people,” said Qais Hassan, chairman of parliament’s Telecommunication and Transportation Commission.

Meanwhile, MP Makhdom Abdal Mohammadi said that it has been six months since the promises had been made to activate the system for collection of telecom tax, but the plan has not been implemented so far.

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Ata Mohammad Noor accuses ARG Palace of massive corruption

The chief executive of Jamia-e-Islami Ata Mohammad Noor has accused the ARG Presidential Palace of massive corruption, claiming that millions are being embezzled in large contracts under different pretexts in the office of the president.

Noor made the latest claims during a gathering in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan as a deadlock still persists between him and the government due to the circumstances surrounding his resignation.

He claimed that evidences and documents are available with him to prove that millions have been embezzled in large contracts, specifically pointing towards the fuel contracts for the national defense and security forces.

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$2 million counterfeit currency seized by Afghan forces

The Afghan security forces seized around two million dollars counterfeit currency as part of their efforts to curb the circulation of forged notes during the last year.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) acting spokesman Najib Danish told reporters that the counterfeit dollars were confiscated during the operations conducted by the intelligence operatives of the ministry.

He said the perpetrators involved in the circulation of the counterfeit dollars and other banknotes have been introduced to the judiciary institutions.

Danish further added that the Afghan force also thwarted smuggling attempts made by the smugglers for the transfer of around 1,500 precious stones out of the country.

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Anti-Corruption Justice Center To Hold Graft Hearing Next Week

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) on Sunday said the anti-corruption justice center will hold a public hearing on two corruption cases next week after being delayed due to a number of problems.

“I want assure you that the center will do its work with authority and there are no issues that hamper our works,” said AGO spokesman Jamshid Rasuli.

Meanwhile, a number of anti-corruption centers criticized government’s campaign against corruption and said the anti-corruption justice center does not have the power to assess big graft cases.

“There are corrupt figures around the government leaders. The leaders cannot assess the corruption cases related to these figures,” said Khan Zaman Amarkhail, head of Afghan anti-corruption network.

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Corruption remains endemic in Afghanistan: Survey

A Pajhwok Afghan News survey shows administrative corruption remains endemic in Afghanistan particularly in the judiciary, customs offices, municipalities and police department.

Most of individuals in the online survey, a joint venture of the European Union Delegation in Afghanistan and Pajhwok, believed corruption had increased during the past one year, some slammed government’s response to corruption and others accused the national unity government of lacking a strong political will to eradicate the menace.

Over 50 percent of the respondents claimed to have witnessed events of corruption and they saw the culture of impunity behind the growing corruption. But 43 percent respondents hoped corruption would decline with the passage of time. Most of them demanded severe punishment for corrupt politicians and businessmen.

It was the EU Delegation and Pajhwok’s first joint online survey on corruption, in which 1,038 individuals participated, with 32,900 persons receiving survey forms to add personal views about corruption.

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Afghanistan among three corrupt countries of 2015

Afghanistan has been listed third after Somalia and North Korea in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 of Transparency International.

In Afghanistan, millions of dollars that should have gone on reconstruction have been reportedly wasted or stolen, seriously undermining efforts to sustain peace, the report states.

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