World to Debate Financial Reform Agenda at Brussels Summit

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The issue of implementing systematic reforms in Afghanistan’s financial system and customs department are topics that will be under review at the upcoming Brussels Summit.

Financial reform is among a number of commitments made by the Afghan government to its international partners.

At Warsaw Summit, the Afghan government pledged to its donors and its partners that it would step up efforts to curb corruption and bring reforms in the financial sector.

Meanwhile, a number of business leaders have hit back at government’s financial reform agenda, arguing that still almost 40 percent of the revenue collected is embezzled.

The continued illegal outflow of business commodities from the country, and the lack of a serious monitoring system are two major obstacles which have overshadowed national revenue generation.

“You can see that heads of customs and customs employees are among the richest people in the society, the reason is these people work for their own interests, but not for the people, these people are involved in the embezzlement of revenue in customs,” said Nazar Mohammad Stanekzai, a member of Afghanistan Business Association.‎

“I think the reforms implemented recently instead of benefitting us are harming us, a law was approved by the ministry of finance months ago, but it’s not yet implemented, this is completely an illegal act and it is questionable,” businessman Aqa Jan said.

But, the ministry of finance said it has launched a reforms agenda.

“We have undertaken a broad-based reform agenda and curbed corruption, you can see that our capabilities for revenue collection is more than the targeted amount, but the amount can be achieved when corruption is curbed to zero,” said Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.

Economists suggest that improving Afghanistan’s financial and customs sectors will ensure the nation’s economic sustainability and progress.

“We are facing major problems, government’s reform programs have not changed anything, because it is not a real reform, now the ministry of finance imposes additional taxes on businessmen, this also paves the way for tax evasion,” said Siyar Quraishi, an economic analyst.

The annual income achieved from domestic sources in Afghanistan is currently estimated at122 billion Afs with half of the amount generated through customs revenue.‎

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