KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): Tens of millions of afghanis have been embezzled in the past in revenue of the Kunduz Agriculture Department, Pajhwok Afghan News has found.
The fund misappropriation becomes obvious, considering the revenue collected over the past three months and this last fiscal year,
Since mid-August, when the Taliban came to power, the authorities have collected over 36 million afghanis in revenue from the Agriculture Department.
If the trend continues, an estimated 132 million afghanis will be collected till the end of the current year.
During the last fiscal year, about 12 million afghanis were collected in agro revenue, indicating a difference of over 33 million afs with the revenue expected this year.
Findings of Pajhwok of Afghan News show the provincial agricultural revenue stood at 11,896,451 afs in 2017, 10,854,363 afs in 2018 and 29,731,180 afs in 2019.
The quarterly revenue all these three years is significantly lower than the amount received since mid-August.
Agriculture Department officials say they collected more than 36 million afs last year. In the previous year, the department’s revenue worked out at nearly 12 million afs, showing a difference of over 24 million afs.
The reason behind the surge in the revenue is said to be the sale of agricultural products and equipment, as well as issuance of more licences.
Agriculture Director Maulvi Amanullah Hassan said last year nearly 12 million afs were collected. But in the past three months, they received around 36 million afs, recording a surge of over 33 million afs, compared to the collection in the corresponding period of last year and more than 132 million afs in 12 months.
Hassan linked small revenues of the department in the past to embezzlement by top officials and powerful individuals. The income collected has been handed over to Da Afghanistan Bank by the Revenue Department. “We collected 36 million afs in the past three months.”
Last year, he recalled, nearly 12 million revenue had been collected, which was generated through the sale of wheat seeds. The revenue from Agriculture Department infrastructure and state property ended up in private pockets, he alleged.
With efforts ongoing to collect more revenue, he affirmed the government’s commitment to serving the people of Kunduz.
“We are trying to collect more revenue and hand it over to Da Afghanistan Bank in a transparent manner,” the director promised.
Referring to the quarterly revenue, the official said: “If we continue in this manner till the end of the year, we will amass a higher amount.”
Ghulam Nabi, an employee of the Agriculture Department, acknowledged it was hard hit by corruption in the past.
He saw corruption behind missed revenue targets in past years when millions of afghanis were embezzled or ended up in personal pockets.
Nabi added: “It is clear that the revenue of the department went into personal pockets and millions of afghanis were pilfered. But we are grateful that these problems have been resolved now and we hope our revenue will increase…”
Maulvi Hassan said in 2018 the revenue of his department was more than 29 million afghanis. In 2019, it amounted to 10,854,363 afs — most of it coming from the sale of modified seeds.
He said the revenue of government lands, shops and yards went into private pockets and with the new government in power transferred the revenues to the Da Afghanistan Bank.
In addition to 36 million afs in revenue this year, he explained, they also also received 10 million afghanis on ushr.
Reactions from experts:
Hassan, the director of agriculture, pledged to bring corrupt people to justice. The corrupt would be referred to courts, which would decide their fate, he said.
Matin Yousafzai, head of the Kunduz Chamber of Commerce, also blamed the previous administration for corruption in all departments. He charged 50 percent of government revenue landed in private pockets under the previous government.
“Undoubtedly, revenue deficits in past years played a key role in the current economic crisis. In the past, corruption reached its peak.”
Najmuddin, another agricultural official, agreed the department was plagued by corruption in the past. He said 50 percent of the revenue then went into private pockets.
Ghulam Nabi Sapand, a university professor and economist, also said rules regarding revenue collection were not been properly implemented in the past. No fundamental work was done, he said. As a result, the Afghans were currently facing economic woes, he believed.
“The previous administration had problems and revenue from government sources were not collected properly. Most of the money was embezzled as the previous government could not implement the laws it framed,” he claimed.
Associate professor Mohammad Omar Kunduzi called agriculture the backbone of the economy and said accountability was a principle of the Islamic system. Proper management of agriculture boosted the economy, he argued.
He viewed administrative graft in the previous administration as one of the causes of the current economic crisis in the country. She suggested the appointment of experienced and professional personnel.
Meanwhile, a majority of officials of the previous government confirmed the existence of corruption in the country.
According to Pajhwok, In April this year, the Ministry of Finance had said $8 million were embezzled a day in customs revenue.
This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.