Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Corruption case in the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Afghanistan remains a question mark

While Abdul Razaq Wahidi, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT), was suspended by virtue of his involvement in embezzlement of money collected from the 10% tax levied on mobile top-up cards, taking bribes in contracts, and ethnicity-based favoritism in appointments, the National Unity Government (NUG) has not yet released details of the corruption case which, according to people remains a question mark.
Anti-corruption bodies state that if the government continues to keep silent and apathetic about corruption in MoCIT and elsewhere, it will denote that the president and his chief executive officer are also in cahoots with the culprits. Zabihullah Wardak, a member of the Afghan Anti-Corruption Network (AACN), says if the corruption case in MoCIT is not investigated, the minister is not interrogated, and it is not made clear to people where their mobile top-card tax money goes, it will signify that the government is further institutionalizing corruption. “The president and chief executive officer are surrounded by individuals who oppose rule of law, and they have vested interests in the MoCIT and other cases.” In addition to the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, there were also major corruption cases in the ministries of Borders and Tribal Affairs (MoBTA) and Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), about which they have gathered documents, Wardak revealed, accusing the government of being quite about it, suggesting that anti-corruption is only a sloganeering. Meanwhile, Nasrat Rahimi, a former MoCIT spokesman, alleged the ministry was riddled with widespread corruption, but no one was held accountable for it. In addition to the alleged corruption in telecom service tax, Rahimi disclosed other corruption cases involving the former minister, his secretary and a number of other employees. “15,000 golden SIM cards of Salaam Telecommunication Company have been sold, but the money estimated at more than 100 million Afs has gone missing. Indeed, it has gone to the pockets of the minster, his secretary, and the SIM card Distribution Manager of Salaam Telecom Service Provider.” The former minister had also taken 6 million Afs from the budget of Afghan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (ATRA) for his house construction; however, he has not been questioned about it yet. Wahid Ghashtalai, a civil society activist, calls on the government to at least give the nation an explanation about cases exposed by the media. Talking to The Heart of Asia, he said: “At the initial days, the government announced the amount of proceed derived from the taxation of mobile credit cards, but it was still not corruption-free. Hence, no one knows where their tax money goes and how it is spent.” According to Ghashtalai, instead of putting the corrupt officials behind bars, the government gives new titles and jobs to them, a practice that will widen the distance between the government and nation. While, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology refused to comment on the issue, Abdul Razaq Wahidi, the ex-minister, rejected all allegations levelled against him as baseless two week ago, saying he was ready to defend himself against the accusations at a court.
Written by  Heart of Asia

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