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Taliban extracting Badakhshan’s gold, lazuli mines

Taliban extracting Badakhshan’s gold, lazuli mines

Dec 27, 2016 - 16:33

FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): Officials in northeastern Badakhshan province on Tuesday said the provincial revenue department’s income increased by seven percent this year despite no revenue collection from gold and lapis lazuli mines’ extraction.

Finance manager at the provincial Revenue Department, Abdul Sattar Natiq, in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) had estimated this year’s revenue of the department at 298 million afghanis, while more than 329 million afghanis had already been collected.

He said current year’s revenue increased by seven percent compared to last year’s 300.8 million afs. Calling insecurity and presence of militants in a number of areas as major challenge in revenue collection, he said they were unable to collect revenue from border districts and areas under high security threats.

“Some big companies cancelled their plans to establish factories in Badaskhshan due to insecurity negatively impacting the provincial revenue,” he said.

Natiq said non-collection of revenue from two great mines -- lapis lazuli and gold mines --- was another challenge facing the revenue department. “These mines are under Taliban control and they are illegally extracting the minerals while giving no share to the government.”

If controlled and extracted by government, revenue from the mines would make up budget for the entire northern region including Badakhshan province, he said.

“We can collect 50 million afghanis each year from the lapis lazuli mine, but unfortunately extraction work at the mine has been stopped in compliance with a presidential order. We no longer receive revenue from it, while the mine is currently illegally extracted and the minerals trafficked through Panjsher province,” he said.

Natiq added 692 shops built on the Faizabad-Baharak road had been closed due to bad road condition and as a result, no revenue was collected from the shops.

He said closure of Ashkasham, Sheghnan and Nasi ports due to insecurity was another problem in the tax collection drive and the revenue department did not collect revenue from these ports.

However, Abdullah, a shopkeeper in Faizabad, said their income was very limited and could not even meet their daily needs. He said the revenue department collected taxes from 8,000 to 10,000 afghanis from each shopkeeper each year without considering their situation.