AIBAK (Pajhwok): Under the Afghanistan laws, a five percent of the revenue from mineral extraction should go to the relevant province, but residents of northern Samangan province say they are denied this royalty benefit.
Coalmines in Dara-i-Suf Bala, Dara-i-Suf Payeen and Roi Doab districts of Samangan enjoy great reputation.
Violation of law in revenue:
Mohammad Hasham Sarwari, Samangan’s deputy provincial council head, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Article 84 of the mining law on revenue was not enforced in the province.
The article says: “The Ministry of Finance is responsible to pay five percent of the revenue collected from mines to the relevant province for economic, social and environmental improvement of the people of the province.”
Sarwari said the mines law was approved in 2015 and since then Shabashak and Dehna Tor mines alone in Dara-i-Suf Bala district added more than eight billion afghanis to the government’s revenue.
The five percent or around 400 million afghanis of the revenue had to be spent on Samangan’s development and reconstruction affairs, something that did not happen due to poor management of local officials, Sarwari said.
Meanwhile, Eng. Abdul Ghani Mansoor, director of Coal Enterprise in the north, said that he was responsible only to prepare coal tariff for costumers.
He said daily revenue collected from Dehna Tor and Shabashak mines was estimated at around 7.7 million afghanis and the total revenue collected last fiscal year from the two mines reached around 2.8 billion afghanis.
The provincial council deputy head said the enterprise was working from Pul-i-Khumri City, the capital of northern Baghlan province, and the revenue collected from Samangan coal mines was also related to Baghlan province.
On the other hand, Mansoor said the coal enterprise was created in Pul-i-Khumri city around 70 years ago and it covered Samangan, Baghlan, Bamyan and Takhar provinces.
He said that most of the revenue came from the coalmine in Dara-i-Suf Payeen district of Samangan.
Mohammad Hasham Sarwari said three coalmines including East Garmak, West Garmak and Rashk in Dara-i-Suf Bala district had been leased out to the private sector by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.
“These mines produce hundreds of millions of afghanis in revenue but its five percent share has never been given to Samangan province,” he said.
Sarwari accused Samangan local officials of poor show in obtaining the five percent revenue and said the north coal enterprise office should be shifted from Baghlan to Samangan province considering the province’s high amount of revenue.
“After this office is shifted to Aibak, the capital of Samangan, it would help create jobs for hundreds of local people and use the five percent revenue of coal mines for the development of the province,” he added.
Mohammad Seddiq Azizi, the governor’s spokesman, did not accept the governor’s house performance had been poor in obtaining the five percent revenue and said the Ministry of Finance had not been responding to their requests.
He said that a delegation from the province would leave for capital Kabul next month to discuss the issue with senior government officials.
Coal market in Balkh
Residents of Samangan complain there is no an asphalted road between Dara-i-Suf Bala district and Aibak city, therefore the coal is transferred to Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province where an asphalted road is connected with the district.
Dara-i-Suf Bala administrative chief Ahmad Ali Hasani said that up to 120 trucks carried coal from the district’s mine to Balkh province and then exported to other provinces and Pakistan on a daily basis.
Abdul Khalil Javid, a resident of Aibak city, also criticized the transfer of coal to Balkh province and the failure to obtain the five percent revenue.
He said the coal market’s location in Balkh did not benefit the people of Samangan province in coal business.
The construction of the road between Dara-i-Suf Bala and Aibak City would help transfer the coal to Aibak and create jobs for thousands of local people, he said.
Javid said construction of the road would also shorten the distance between Dara-i-Suf Bala and Dara-i-Suf Payeen districts and the provincial capital by 140 kilometers.
Mohammad Seddiq Azizi said local officials were trying to shift the coal market from Balkh province to Samangan and had shared the idea with relevant organs as well, but their efforts are yet to bear fruits. “The local administration is following this issue seriously”, he added.
Azizi said construction of the Dara-i-Suf Bala-Aibak road was part of the local administration plan, but the Ministry of Finance did not allocate budget for that in 1397 fiscal year.
Pajhwok tried to contact the Ministry of Finance for comment about the reason why it did not allocate budget for the road, but failed.