The Roshan telecom company, one of the few telecommunication providers in the country, has filed a dispute with the Afghanistan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (ATRA) over the payment of its 2 billion Afs ($25 million) debts in taxes to the government.
Roshan officials said that based on a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Finance signed in 2020, it is paying the debts in installments over the span of five years, but ATRA said the debts should be paid at once.
The main office of Roshan was heavily damaged in a truck bombing near its headquarters in downtown Kabul in 2017. This led the company to not pay its taxes on time.
“Based on the president’s direction, the Finance Ministry and ATRA have been asked to take serious measures in collecting debts from Roshan,” ATRA spokesman Saeed Shinwari said.
Roshan challenged the decisions by the two government entities and said that this will leave it with no option but to seek legal advice on the violation of the tax collection law by the government.
Some lawyers said that the government should abide by its MoU which has been signed with the Roshan telecommunication company.
“When a government institution that has authority to collect taxes or debts in taxes makes a decision on installment payments, no institution has the right to change this decision, especially when it is made based on the law,” said Wahidullah Farzaee, a lawyer.
The Financial Disputes Resolution Commission in a letter favored Roshan in this case.
“The government should provide the grounds for Roshan to operate so that it pays its debts based on the protocol that has been signed,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, the deputy head of Afghanistan Chambers Federation.
The international chamber of commerce office in Afghanistan said that Roshan has paid over $700 million in taxes to the government in recent years and that the contradictory decision against the company will not favor investment in the country.
“First, the government should honor what it has signed with Roshan, and then it should help Roshan to pay its debts in taxes and improve its business,” the CEO of the chamber, Hujatullah Fazli said.
Roshan has invested over $800 million in the sector in the last 18 years and covers at least six million customers in the country. It pays over $50 million in taxes to the government every year and has over 900 employees now, according to information from its officials.