The Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan four years ago passed a law that allows the government to collect 2 Afs ($0.02) per liter of imported gas and fuel, as a transit tax, said Union of Fuel and Gas Importers. but added it is uncertain where and how the collected tax is being spent.
Five years ago, the government decided to update its old method of collecting imported fuel and gas taxes and claimed that the new arrangement would fight corruption. A separate account was set up in the customs offices that were to be used for repairing damaged or destroyed roads across the country. Critics say they do not see the effects of this revenue, and that information about the allocation of revenue is not available.
“It is unclear to fuel merchants and investors about where and how the collected taxes from the imported fuel and gas are being spent,” said Hasibullah Rahimi, CEO of the Fuel and Gas Importers Union.
Annually, over 3 million metric tons of gas and fuel are imported into Afghanistan, meaning that about 6.5 billion Afs (over $84M) should be collected from the imported fuel and gas taxes yearly.
But the Ministry of Finance only provides a general figure about the collected taxes, not details about how and where the collected revenue is spent.
“In the year 1390 we collected 3 billion Afs, in 1398 we gained 4 billion Afs and in 1399 we collected 3 billion Afs,” said Rafi Tabeh, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.
The purpose of collecting taxes from fuel and gas importers is to use the revenue to repair streets and highways in the country.
Despite this, some truck drivers say most of the highways in the country--about 80%--are damaged.
“The perpetrators of land destructions are business mafias, negligent and mafia drivers, and those responsible in the Ministry of Public Works,” said Tala Mohammad Atmanzai, director of Land Transport Organizing Affairs Council.
Khalil Rahman Omid, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works, said “annually about 1 billion Afs (over $12M) are spent in the repair and maintenance of streets; this year due to the budget deficit the allocation has been decreased.”
The Kabul-Kandahar highway, one of the most important roads in Afghanistan, is partially damaged every year, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on repair.
Some experts in street construction and asphalting said the increased destruction of highways throughout the country will financially challenge the government's ability to repair the streets before the next two years.