Ministry of Finance says more than 1.4 billion AFs – over $20.7 million USD – has been collected from tobacco tax since the beginning of this fiscal year, December 2016 to December 2017.
Figures from Central Statistics Office indicate that Afghan investors have spent more than $54 million USD on cigarette imports in the past six months while this amount was up to $50 million USD last year.
“We had 963 million AFs – over $13.9 million USD - (from tobacco tax) in 1395 (Persian year) but in the past 11 months, we have collected 1.430 billion AFs as the tobacco tax revenue. This is an income source for Afghan government,” said Ajmal Abdulrahimzai, spokesman for Ministry of Finance.
Earlier this year, the Wolesi Jirga, Lower House of Parliament, decided to increase the tobacco tax by 100 percent. However, the decision was rejected by Meshrano Jirga, Upper House of Parliament.
“First, it was not in the interest of the country and second, as I mentioned, there was no decree from president (Ashraf Ghani) or there was no letter from Ministry of Finance. It was the personal demand of a number of lawmakers to increase the cigarette tax; therefore, it was rejected by senators,” said Faisal Sami, deputy secretary of Meshrano Jirga.
According to Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, part of the imported cigarettes is sent to other countries in the region.
“If the tariff increases by 100 percent, it will have many damages. First, it will grab employment from the people, second, it will pave the ground for smuggling and third, it will decrease government’s revenue from cigarette imports,” said Siyam Psarlai, spokesman for Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Figures from Central Statistics Office show that Afghanistan imports cigarettes from 10 countries, part of which is exported to Central Asian nations.