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PAN (Translated by RAWA), September 4, 2008

Embezzlement of 17 Million in the Kabul Municipality

It can be seen that corruption is present in the Kabul Municipality and the organizations of inspection and control of the government don’t have a clear count of the expenditure of the projects of this office.

In 2007, out of 42 million Afghanis (around US$8 million) earned from the tax of billboards in Kabul, 17 million has been wasted by the Kabul Municipality.

The Municipality has two statistics of the money earned from billboards in 2007.

Mahtabuddin Ahmadi, head of the cultural facilitation sector said the income was 33 million whereas Wahabuddin Sadaat, deputy of facilitation of the city sector of the municipality, announced the amount to be 24 million.

Upon consultation of Afghanistan’s Bank to find out the exact amount given to the bank from the taxes of billboards on roadsides in 2007, authorities there refused to give any information regarding the matter.

Corruption in Afghanistan is hobbling efforts to combat the booming opium trade with powerful drug lords evading justice by simply making a telephone call to friends in high places, a United Nations official said.
Reuters, July 28, 2008

Aimal Ashoor, the person in charge of the media section of the Afghanistan Bank said that they couldn’t tell the amount to the media because this is a secret and its revelation is only the authority of the municipality itself and the supreme court of Afghanistan.

Despite this, the witnesses and proofs that have come into hand during the research show that the municipality of Kabul has collected more that 42 million Afghanis from the taxes of roadside billboards.

The proof came into hand when the municipality gave the number of billboards lesser than the actual number, which is, he announced the income from the taxes of the billboards 24 millions in 2007; but when reporters counted the billboards and calculated the cost of taxes according to the formula, the answer showed a loss of 17 million Afghanis.

The authorities of the Kabul Municipality still don’t confess that they have wasted 17 million Afghanis.

In 2007, more than 10 thousand meters square of big and small billboards (local and foreign) were installed on the roadsides of Kabul. The municipality collected, as tax, 150 dollars from boards of foreign companies and 3000 Afghanis from local ones according to the set price.

Although the Kabul Municipality have announced different amounts of the tax collected from billboards (as once it was announced 24 million and another time 33 million Afghanis), there is no proof in the offices of the municipality on the basis of which they could actually prove any of the two amounts.

All the billboards on roadsides in 2007 have been counted by reporters and recorded in video. Also, interviews have been done with eye witnesses working on these boards and their words give an idea about the illustrations of the boards.

The Culture Sect of the Kabul Municipality counted the big billboards on roadside in 2007 and the reported it to be 515, whereas the authorities don’t have the slightest record of the small billboards.

Research shows that in 2007, in different parts of the city, 486 big boards and 2009 small ones were installed, most of which still exist with advertisements.

The Cultural Facilitation sector of the municipality charges tax on billboards that are installed in private property and those which are blank with no advertisement. This act is against norm and the bill of the municipality and the money is not added in the government’s treasury.

Though there is a single system in the government about collecting money from billboards and turning them over to the treasury, the governmental authorities have different views about the matter.

The Ministry of Finance which should be the only legal source answerable to the income and consumption of all bodies related to the government has no idea about the amount of money collected from billboards by the municipality.

Aryan Mohammad Sharifi, spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance said the ministry has no responsibility towards the income and consumption of the Kabul Municipality as not only in Afghanistan but throughout the world, the municipalities are independent and all their income and expenditure is related to them only.

Corruption in Afghanistan is endemic, it hurts the poorest people disproportionately, pushes people away from the state and undermines our joint efforts to build peace, stability and progress for Afghanistan's peoples.
ReliefWeb , August 20, 2008

In the third chapter of the tenth article of the law of municipalities it is written: “The plan of expenditure and budget of the Municipality is set up by the mayor and other authorities and sent to the Ministry of Finance to be approved. The final decision is made by the (cabinet/ assembly of ministers.”

Nazar Mohammad Tabeh, deputy of the incumbency sect of the Finance Ministry, strongly disapproved of the independence of the municipality and other official and private offices.

Besides Sharifi and Tabeh, Mohammad Aaqa, head of treasuries of this ministry said that according to the law of the local finance office the municipality should give a report at the end of every month to the ministry. They should tell how much money has come into hand and how as well how and on what the money has been spent. He also said they had tried to keep this count from throughout Afghanistan but had failed.

It can be seen that corruption is present in the Kabul Municipality and the organizations of inspection and control of the government don’t have a clear count of the expenditure of the projects of this office. The inspection and control office as the investigation organ in the government has the function of asking and considering the income and expenses of all the governmental offices including the municipality. It is also supposed to present anyone who embezzles or commits treason to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution.

Officers of the control and investigation office of the Ministry of Finance discovered some million Afghanis embezzled from the income of the municipality while investigating the accounts of the Kabul Municipality in 2006 but they didn’t introduce anyone to the Attorney’s office for this crime.

Category: RAWA News, Corruption - Views: 11919