Pajhwok Afghan News

Exonerate media from taxes, Nai tells govt

KABUL (Pajhwok): NAI, an open media supporting organization, on Sunday said nearly 200 local media outlets had been in financial problems for years, asking the government to exonerate the media from paying taxes.

The organization expressed concern about journalists’ security and said lack of access to information remained a challenge in Afghanistan.

Financial problems

Mujib Khilwatgar, head of Nai, told a press conference here  that the Afghan government had recently claimed some local media outlets owed 180 million afghanis in taxes.

He said the media outlets could not pay the huge amount because they had been in financial crisis since 1393 solar year. He did not name any of the tax defaulters.

Khilwatgar asked the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to write off tax arrears and fines against the media, particularly print media. “Print media is free from paying tax according to the media law,” he said.

“According to Article 34 of the Constitution, the government is responsible to ensure freedom of press,” he said.

“Freedom of expression shall be inviolable. Every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this constitution”, the article adds.

Khilwatgar said media outlets in southern Ghazni province paid taxes to both the government and the Taliban, which they could not afford.

Since 1393 solar year, nearly 200 media outlets including 12 radio stations, four television channels, two news agencies and many print media were forced into packing by financial problems, he said.

Security threats

Khilwatgar expressed concern over increasing security threats against journalists and said five journalists were threatened only in one week in a province in the northern region while a journalist in southern Helmand was forced into leaving the country.

“Journalists in northern Sar-i-Pul province prepare their reports in the governor’s house due to security problems”, he added.

“We contacted a journalist who was sent from Kabul to Sar-i-Pul province, he said he prepares reports at the governor’s house and if he wants to go outside, he should be assisted by a group of security guards,” Khilwatgar added.

mds/ma

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