The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has been preventing media from filming the “Real Time System,” in action, saying it cannot allow “secret portions of the system” to be shown.
But skeptics say that the “Real Time System,” which is intended to automatically transfer a tax from mobile phone users to the government, might not be helping thwart embezzlement, but encourage it.
Earlier this month, The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology announced that it had activated the Real Time system, but said that there were questions about its functioning and transparency.
But Afghan citizens have raised concerns that there are ways to embezzle the 10 percent levies the government collects from telecom users.
“There is no clarity about where this ten percent tax is spent; if it was clear we wouldn’t have any concerns about it,” said Abdul Tawab, a resident in Kabul.
“When someone is not prepared to share the information with the citizens, that itself indicates that there is corruption behind it,” said Habib Farzam, a resident in Kabul.
“We will investigate this matter seriously to know if this system is operational or not,” said Nasima Niazi, a member of parliament’s transport and communication committee.
The Real Time Data Management System (RTDMS) is a system that connects with the billing systems of all telecom companies and manages the 10% telecom service fees collected from GSM subscribers, making sure those tax fees are deposited in the correct government accounts.
“We will need at times to get permission to enter the prohibited areas. You know that there many secret things in this system and these secret issues have been causing some kind of concern for you,” said Sher Shah Nawabi, spokesman for the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
The system purports to ensure transparency in the collection of taxes and to provide proper reporting of tax revenues to the government.
The contract for the $11 million project was awarded by the Afghan government to an American company, Bustos Group LLC, in February 2019.