The Economists and Industrialists Union on Thursday raised concerns over the dramatic surge in cooking oil imports into the country, saying that the money invested in this is estimated to be about $7 million USD annually.
In turn the union called on government to take steps to revive investor trust and promote domestic production.
They said that the money invested in importing of cooking oil has a negative impact on the economy.
The lack of access to raw materials is the reason behind the surge, the union members said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has expressed doubts over the quality of cooking oil coming into the country.
Currently six cooking oil production factories are operating in the country and produce about 300 tons a day. However, this figure does not meet the market requirement.
Union members said Afghanistan imports more than 8,500 tons of oil annually which costs $7 million USD.
According to them, the lack of access to raw materials, insufficient electricity, threats against investors and a lack of cooperation by government have overshadowed the production of this.
“We import raw materials from Malaysia and it takes a lot of time to bring the material to Kabul, this also delays our production levels,” said Bilal Ahmad Jalalzai, chairman of a private oil production factory in Kabul.
“If the government supports domestic production, particularly the cooking oil production sector, and stops the import of oil from abroad, this would help increase domestic production,” said Jabbar Safai, deputy head of the union.
Officials from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said that many investors are willing to invest in the sector in Afghanistan, but government has not showed any interest.
“Investors are willing to invest in oil production, but there is no proper investment climate due to security threats, high taxes, and government so far has failed to address these issues,” said Seyam Pesralai, spokesman for the ACCI.
“Our labs at the ministry of public health are not well-equipped, so we can not check the quality of oil coming into the country – to find out whether the oil if of good quality or not,” said Bashir Noormal, acting head of policy and planning at the MoPH.