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Embezzlement plagues customs;$700m lost to graft

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AT-KABUL: The government claims that powerful individuals embezzle some 700 millions of dollars from the custom revenues every year.

Shah Hossein Mortazavi, spokesman for president Ghani said Tuesday that the government was trying to regularize the collection of custom revenues and change Afghanistan to a self-reliant country. He added that efforts were going on to increase the domestic revenues to eight billion dollars annually.

“The president met last week with the heads of custom offices and emphasized how to prevent misusage of custom revenues. Around 700 million dollars are misused every year. This money is poured to the pockets of the people either powerful or those who have influence in the custom offices. We should increase our revenues to eight billion dollars yearly,” said Mortazavi.

The misuse of revenues especially custom revenues has always been a matter of concern for the government, but it had failed so far to overcome this challenge.

The government had earlier said that its annual revenue was 2.2 million dollar, while Afghanistan’s military expenses soar up to five billion dollars yearly.

The main part of Afghanistan’s budget is provided from international donation now, but Mortazavi said the donations would cut soon or late.

SaifoddinSaihoon, professor of economy said that it was very important to prevent the misuse of revenues, but added that the government had not yet succeeded to do that.

“Totally the collectable revenues that are misused reach to billions of dollars because we still lack the system and mechanism to regularly collect it. The government is unable to collect the revenues because of a wide corrupt existing inside the administration,” said Saihoon.