Tuesday, October 27, 2020

MEC says Afghans paid $1.6 billion in bribes in 2018

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A report by the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), which focused on areas vulnerable to corruption, stated that Afghans paid $1.65 billion in bribes in 2018, less than the $2.88 billion in 2016 but higher than the government’s annual revenue.

The report finds that people still believe that corruption is highly endemic in the country and they no longer trust government officials.

The report shows that the government’s income from taxpayers was Afs86.5 billion ($1.12 billion) in 2018 and Afs68.7 billion ($889 million) in 2019– in both cases less than the amount that Afghans paid as bribes in 2018.

According to the report, the country’s national revenue in 2018 was around Afs189.5 billion ($2.45 billion) in 2018.

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“According to the 2018 report of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, $1.65 billion has been paid in bribes across Afghanistan, which does not specifically relate to customs,” said Maiwand Rouhani, head of the secretariat of the MEC.

The MEC report lists eight key conditions that affect reforms.

It has assessed the two general directorates of the Ministry of Finance: the customs department and the revenue department.

The report finds alleged interference by government officials, MPs and “warlords” in the activities of the two departments and says they have provided conditions for corruption in the two offices.

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According to a Kabul-based watchdog, almost $1 billion is wasted in the country’s customs annually.

“At least $2 billion is taken as a bribe from the people and this encompasses big corruption in procurement and does not include land-grabbing,” said Nasir Taimori, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

Members of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment said that a big amount of money is wasted annually due to “corruption” and “bribery” in customs.

“One person is appointed to a management post after paying $500,000 or he is appointed by the mafia. It is obvious that he will work for himself and embezzles the national revenue,” said Zalmay Azimi, deputy head of the Chamber of Commerce and Investment in Nangarhar.

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