KABUL, showing a 40 percent decline, a Ministry of Mines and Petroleum official said on Wednesday.
Deputy Mines Minister Nasir Ahmad Durrani told Pajhwok Afghan News during an inclusive interview that income generated from small mines during the period was $95,51,850, from large mines $15, 039, 554 and enterprises $26,093, 128.
The total revenue from mining sector last solar year (1391) that ended on March 21 was more than $90 million, reaching $50, 713, 529 this year so far, he said.
He linked the decrease in revenue to non-payment of $58 million by the MCC Company to the ministry. The money would have been paid if the ministry had endorsed the company’s technical and economic study.
Unfortunately, the ministry was yet to receive the document, he explained. Last year’s revenue from small mines was around $6 million against this year’s $9 million, showing a 40 percent increase, he said.
In 1391, former Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani had said they would collect $150 million from mines and the income would increase to $3.5 billion over the next 15 years.
To the question why the revenue could not be increased, Durrani said Shahrani had predicted the rise and it was not necessary a prediction must come true.
Time-consuming bidding process, delays in signing contracts, the impasse over the approval of mines law at the national assembly had been reasons which led to the decline in revenue, he said.
However, he said revenues from large mines such as Ainak copper ore mine, oil and gas fields at Amu River bison, Afghan-Tajik, the Hajigak mine and Pashtun Zarghoon mine had been satisfactory.
But Gul Pacha Majeedi, a member of the lower house’s commission on environment and natural resources, called the claims of mines ministry officials as irresponsible and far from true, saying the ministry had several times promised increase in revenue, but it had decreased.
He said they had time and again asked the ministry for information on revenue, but they had been refusing. He said the refusal showed the ministry’s affairs lacked transparency.
Saifuddin Saihoon, an economic expert and professor at Kabul University, said the government had little control over mines, which were illegal extracted by warlords. He said administrative corruption also contributed to the decline in revenue from mines.
The lack of accountability, the absence of an economic entity to organise the resources, no transparency in awarding contracts, bad management, negligence, abuse, looting of natural resources as part of international and local rivalries were reasons causing the decline, he added.
There has been increase in unprofessional and illegal extraction of mines. Badakhshan Governor Shah Waliullah has recently said the Tourmaline mine in Jurm district continued to be illegally extracted and its revenue ended up in Taliban’s hands. Tourmaline is a precious stone several folds valuable than azure.
A police officer was recently accused of extracting and smuggling precious and semi-precious stones in eastern Kunar province.
Under Article 9 of chapter first of the constitution, minerals and all other untapped resources and historical monuments are government’s property and the government is responsible to preserve the riches.
A minerals monitoring organization last month said precious stones were being illegally extracted in most provinces and smuggled out of the country.