Almost 80 percent of marble companies in the country are on verge of a financial recession because of the non-extension of semi-precious stones contracts, officials from the stone industry union said on Sunday.
The contracts for the extraction of stone have not been extended for the past three years, officials said, adding that the situation has stopped the process of extraction of marble and has led to an increase in the illegal extraction of the stone.
Marble factory owners have said that currently, only around 20 percent of marble factories are operational in the country.
“They are not allowing us to produce the marble legally, so it forces us to resort on illegal ways. They have created the situation themselves. Either the government is a thief or it has links with them,” said Nematullah, chairman stone industry union.
According to the union, the body is suffering a loss of over 400 million Afs annually due to the ambiguity that surrounds the contracts for the extraction of marble in the country. They accused the government of negligence.
“The government must undertake new contracts to save factories from demise,” said Abdul Bari, a marble factory owner in Wardak province.
The ministry of mines and petroleum has said it is currently assessing over 1000 contracts of small capacity mines.
“So far it has not been decided whether to extend these contracts through the ministry of mines and petroleum or through the economic council, but the plan is that the ministry of mines and petroleum deal with the contracts,” said Abdul Qadeer Mufti, spokesman for the ministry of mines and petroleum.
Abdul Qadeer is an employee of a marble factory which recently collapsed due to financial recession. The company had over 20 workers six months ago, but now it hardly manages to pay the salary of three employees.
He said that the company has failed to pay his wage for the past three months.
“These days both employees and the factory owners are engaging in problems. Today we hardly manage to buy a bread,” said Abdul Qayoum.