Revenue from Herat's border customs has badly declined over the past six months compared to other customs offices in the country, businessmen said on Thursday, saying that local strongmen control the customs.
According to Afghan businessmen, local strongmen at the customs offices take half of the revenues intended for the national treasury.
Revenues have also declined at Torkham and Spin Boldak customs after Pakistan decided to impose restrictions on the Afghan exports.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the total estimated value of imports at Herat customs has declined from 59 billion afs to 36 billion afs over the past six months.
“In proportion to the decrease in our imports, our revenue have also decreased. However, in order to improve the situation, the Ministry of Finance is taking steps to address corruption and interventions. In the practical area, ex-ray machines and digital scales were sent to Islam Qala port. The Ministry of Finance never allows anyone to intervene,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.
The Finance Ministry’s figures show that currently the revenues from Herat customs has declined to 6.1 billion afs from 9.2 billion afs.
“Pakistan closed down its route after the outbreak of coronavirus, the traders then diverted to Iran for the imports of fruits and other products,” said Khairuddin Khairkhaw, a trader.
“Local strongmen have their own people there (Herat customs), Sometimes, they even threaten with guns, you are aware that Herat Custom’s chief was attacked recently,” said Khan Jan Alokozai, a member of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI).
Last year the government decided to transfer Herat customs to Islam Qala port, but the move led to a 30 percent decline in revenues last year.
ACCI has suggested that if the government is unable to keep its sovereignty on Islam Qala port, then it should re-transfer the customs house to Herat to help increase revenue.