Private sector representatives in Herat have set up a tent to protest "the widespread corruption at Herat Customs Department."
The protesters say that corruption in the Herat customs department has discouraged traders and caused the flow of investment out of the country, which will impact the private sector.
Sayed Masoud Sadat, deputy director of the oil and gas committee of the chamber of commerce and investment, said: “Some mafia groups in cooperation with customs officers advance corruption in the country that impacts our industries.”
“In addition to the 50% deduction in our incomes under corruption in customs offices, a lot of money has been collected from business people illegally,” said Romina Osmani, head of Herat’s women's chamber of commerce and investment.
The protester said the import of foreign products and goods that similar to Afghan products negatively impacts the domestic products and is threatening Afghanistan’s with a recession.
Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of the national union of Afghanistan’s saffron farmers, said: “no one can claim that we have prevented the illegal import of Saffron into Herat.”
Mohammad Naeem Ghayur, an economics expert, said: “Anti-government armed groups and militants are utilizing the customs revenues in many ways, there are some people inside the customs offices who pay these groups money as extortion.”
Meanwhile, the deputy director of the customs department at the Ministry of Finance said in a press conference that efforts have been made to fight corruption in all customs offices across the country, especially in the Herat Customs.
“Corruption was there in the past too, no one can say that tomorrow the corruption will be eradicated, but today the corruption is less than yesterday, and tomorrow it will be less than today,” said Omar Mohmand, deputy director of the customs department at the Ministry of Finance.
Previously, President Ghani has said that more than 50 percent of the customs revenue in the country is being embezzled due to the widespread corruption in the customs offices.
The acting Minister of Finance has previously acknowledged that up to $8 million from the country’s customs offices is being lost every day due to corruption.