The National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) rejected a report by the Ministry Industry and Commerce that says Afghanistan’s exports jumped to $1 billion in 2019.
An NSIA report shows that exports for nine months of 2019--the full-year assessment is not yet complete--were worth at least $535 million.
Afghanistan’s main exports, according to officials, are fresh and dry fruits, vegetables, carpets and some semi-precious stones.
But the Ministry of Industry and Commerce publicly announced a different figure:
“Afghanistan’s exports, for the first time, reached $1 billion in 2019, and I congratulate the people and investors of Afghanistan,” said Samir Rasa, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, who addressed a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, Jan. 16.
“The initiatives by the Afghan government have been implemented by the Chamber of Trade and Investment, which has sent Afghan goods to more than 40 countries through air corridors and by land routes,” said Sayed Zaman Hashemi, CEO of Chamber of Trade and Investment, who favored the government’s plans for boosting the country’s exports during the last year.
His remarks come a day after the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament, suspended the budget for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce over the “repeated refusal”of its acting minister, Ajmal Ahmadi, to attend a briefing session in the lower house (See story here).
Along with suspending the budget, the MPs decided by a majority of votes to suspend the authority of Mr. Ahmadi, as of Monday, Jan. 13, saying the acting minister has disgraced the parliament by refusing to accept their summons call.
Ministry officials responded that Mr. Ahmadi could not attend the house session because he was feeling ill.
Some MPs dismiss this as an invalid excuse:
“The officials of the (industry and commerce) ministry who said that Mr. Ajmal Ahmadi has not attended the house summoning because of illness, are telling a lie,” MP Ramazan Bashardost said.
Minister Ahmadi was summoned to the Wolesi Jirga to discuss the budget, but accusations also exist of inappropriate hiring practices.
Answering critics of the ministry, the acting head of trade and transits agreements department of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Murtaza Rahimi, said: “All appointments over the last year in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce have been based on civil services law of Afghanistan.”