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Taliban Accused of Extortion on Major Highways

The "double payment" of customs duties along the national highways has been raising the prices of goods in markets around the country, said the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI).

Currently, 50 percent of the total cost of the transportation of the goods goes to the Taliban, says the ACCI.

Drivers in Baghlan province have said that for over a year they have been paying 30,000 Afs as "customs tariffs" along the Kabul-Kunduz highway to the Taliban. 

However, the Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has said that they collect custom duties only from the imported goods.

Dushi is a district in Baghlan where the Taliban have established checkpoints and collect custom duty from the drivers.

Drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity along the Kabul-Kunduz highway said that the Taliban collect 30,000 Afs as custom duties from the trucks.

“The Taliban are conducting their checking along the road day and night and collect customs duties,” said a driver on the Kunduz-Kabul highway.

“There are a lot of challenges, no one is able to evade taxes, if they do not pay, then they (drivers) will be slapped with an extra fine on the Kandahar highway,” said a driver.

“The custom duties start from 4,000 to 10,000 afghanis and 30,000 from trucks,” said a driver.

“The businessmen are forced to pay customs in two places, they also face extortion on the way,” said Sayed Zaman Hashemi, the CEO of ACCI.

 What does the Finance Ministry say?

 “Customs duties belong to the government of Afghanistan, and unfortunately the Taliban are demanding fines and extorting businessmen,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.

This comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are currently in talks in Doha to help reach a political settlement for ending the conflict in Afghanistan.

Representatives of the private sector have voiced their strong support for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations, saying a successful peace process will transform the country’s economy and trade ties with the region and the world. 

The representatives of the private sector said the government should consider their role in the country’s development when it comes to peace negotiations. 

The opening ceremony of the negotiations started on Saturday in Doha.

Negotiating teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban will hold their first direct talks this week. Contact groups from both sides held a meetings on Sunday and another on Monday to discuss the agenda, guidelines, and scheduling of their upcoming meetings.

The Afghan business community said they remain optimistic that negotiations will lead to peace so that they investment will be boosted in the country.

Taliban Accused of Extortion on Major Highways

“The Taliban are conducting their checking along the road day and night and collect customs duties,” said a driver on the Kunduz-Kabul highway.

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The "double payment" of customs duties along the national highways has been raising the prices of goods in markets around the country, said the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI).

Currently, 50 percent of the total cost of the transportation of the goods goes to the Taliban, says the ACCI.

Drivers in Baghlan province have said that for over a year they have been paying 30,000 Afs as "customs tariffs" along the Kabul-Kunduz highway to the Taliban. 

However, the Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has said that they collect custom duties only from the imported goods.

Dushi is a district in Baghlan where the Taliban have established checkpoints and collect custom duty from the drivers.

Drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity along the Kabul-Kunduz highway said that the Taliban collect 30,000 Afs as custom duties from the trucks.

“The Taliban are conducting their checking along the road day and night and collect customs duties,” said a driver on the Kunduz-Kabul highway.

“There are a lot of challenges, no one is able to evade taxes, if they do not pay, then they (drivers) will be slapped with an extra fine on the Kandahar highway,” said a driver.

“The custom duties start from 4,000 to 10,000 afghanis and 30,000 from trucks,” said a driver.

“The businessmen are forced to pay customs in two places, they also face extortion on the way,” said Sayed Zaman Hashemi, the CEO of ACCI.

 What does the Finance Ministry say?

 “Customs duties belong to the government of Afghanistan, and unfortunately the Taliban are demanding fines and extorting businessmen,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.

This comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are currently in talks in Doha to help reach a political settlement for ending the conflict in Afghanistan.

Representatives of the private sector have voiced their strong support for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations, saying a successful peace process will transform the country’s economy and trade ties with the region and the world. 

The representatives of the private sector said the government should consider their role in the country’s development when it comes to peace negotiations. 

The opening ceremony of the negotiations started on Saturday in Doha.

Negotiating teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban will hold their first direct talks this week. Contact groups from both sides held a meetings on Sunday and another on Monday to discuss the agenda, guidelines, and scheduling of their upcoming meetings.

The Afghan business community said they remain optimistic that negotiations will lead to peace so that they investment will be boosted in the country.

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