The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology activated the Real Time system this week, but there are questions about its functioning and transparency.
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.
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.
But the system has only been activated for the government-owned Salaam telecommunication company at this stage, officials said.
TOLOnews reporter Haidarshah Omid says he was not allowed by the Real Time Directorate of the Communication and IT Ministry to film the process of the Real Time system showing the 10% tax added to the government’s budget when a customer enters his or her credit card number.
But Acting Minister of Communication and IT, Fahim Hashemi, said there is no problem with the way of assessing the collection process of the 10% levy on telecom customers.
“There is no problem. You can see it here if you want. The issue of it being classified is important but it is possible for media to see it,” Hashemi told TOLOnews.
But others suggested the system is not ready to be demonstrated.
“I told you that it is not possible now… We can show it (the Real Time system’s functioning) in the future but it is not possible now,” said Humayun Ghafoori, head of the Real Time Directorate.
Ghafoori said that 50% of the Real Time project has been completed but it still lacks a data center.
Private telecom companies are yet to be connected to the Real Time system.
“It is the right of every citizen to know where the 10% tax from the telecom services goes,” said Halima Sadaf Karimi, a member of the Communication Commission of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of the Parliament.