PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok): Sixty-two cooperatives in eight districts of northern Baghlan province owe more than 16 million afghanis to the Agriculture Department, Pajhwok Afghan News has reliably learnt.
Pajhwok’s findings show the cooperatives purchased improved wheat seed from the Agriculture Department and distributed it to local farmers. But they have yet to pay the seed cost.
Documents obtained by Pajhwok show 186 officials of the 62 cooperatives had pledged to pay the seed cost. But despite being repeatedly asked since 2007 to honour their commitments, they have yet to pay the department.
The Agriculture Department confirmed the cooperatives owed it more than 16 million afghanis. The last letter was sent to cooperatives in five districts by the governor’s house and the police headquarters on April 11 this year.
The letter containing a list of defaulters informed the police headquarters that the cooperatives had not yet cleared their dues.
However, the police department did not take any action against officials of the defaulting cooperative societies.
The letter asked the police headquarters to direct district police to summon the officials and recover the money from them.
The defaulting cooperatives were active in Baghlan-i-Markazi, Pul-i-Khumri, Dahna-i-Ghori, Doshi, Khinjan, Bannu, Farhang and Deh Salah.
The documents reveal 24 cooperatives in Baghlan-i-Markazi district have to pay the agriculture department 8,708,991 afs, 11 in Pul-i-Khumri 2,731,026 afs, five in Dahna-Ghori 132058 afs, 12 in Doshi 1,898,300 afs, six in Khinjan 860,250 afs, one in Bannu 152794 afs, one in Farhang 125005 afs and two in Deh Salah 404043 afs.
Director of Agriculture Qari Mohammad Naeem Hamkar told Pajhwok: “There were some problems in cooperatives. One was that they had links with strongmen, benefiting from their power and guns.
They would tell the Department of Agriculture that the area belonged to the Islamic Emirate and that it was insecure and they cannot pay the department, the director explained. “The cooperatives did not pay the money at all.”
But officials of the defaulting cooperatives say the Agriculture Department never asked them for payments and they, therefore, did not pay.
Abdul Hakim, an official of the Safi Kilagi Cooperative, which has to pay the department 41,250 afghanis, said: “Nearly 14 years ago, we received improved seeds for cultivation from the department.
“When we distributed wheat to people, they it assistance from the government and refused to pay us. No one paid us. Later, the security situation deteriorated. We are not willful; since the government did not ask us for money, we remained reluctant to pay it. I still have 25,000 afghanis in my bank account.”
Akhtar Mohammad, an official of Ikhlas Cooperative in Dand-i-Shahabuddin area, owes the government 858,500 afghanis. He said: “After receiving wheat seeds, farmers refused to give us money. Our cooperatives are now dissolved.” He added: “Our money remains stuck in the bank. Growers said we were selling them aid from the government. Over the last five years, we have been in debt …”
The director of information said: “The Islamic Emirate now rules over the entire country. Powerful individuals are no longer there and no one is above the law. We will recover the money.
“No one has the right to usurp the government’s right or refuse to pay back its money. The provincial administration is serious about collecting revenue and anyone who does not pay will face justice.”