Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Contratto di Appalto Internazionale e legge applicabile

In un contratto di appalto internazionale la legge applicabile determina quali sono i diritti e gli obblighi delle parti (alle volte in aggiunta ed indipendentemente da quello che le parti hanno indicato nel contratto) così come determina quale sia la legge in virtù della quale il contratto deve essere interpretato ed eseguito.
Malgrado possa sembrare scontato, si tratta di una delle clausole che deve essere sempre valutata con estrema attenzione. Per avere un quadro generale sulle clausole da negoziare in un appalto internazionale potrebbe essere di tuo interesse anche il nostro articolo Contratto di Appalto Internazionale: cosa negoziare prima di firmare.
La ragione per cui abbiamo pensato di scrivere un articolo  [https://blog.bdalaw.it/contratto-di-appalto-internazionale-e-legge-applicabile] sulla legge applicabile è perchè purtroppo è molto frequente (soprattutto nei contratti di fornitura o di installazione di componenti) che le parti non indichino una legge applicabile al loro contratto. Altre volte capita di vedere subappalti nella forma del 'back-to-back' che però hanno leggi applicabili diverse dal contratto principale.
Mentre è naturale che appaltatori e subappaltatori guardino con attenzione agli aspetti tecnici ed operativi, la nostra raccomandazione è di esaminare anche tutte le clausole del contratto che possono essere utili a ridurre le ipotesi di controversie (inclusa quella sulla legge applicabile).
E' essenziale sottolineare che la legge applicabile assume un'importanza strategica nei contratti di appalto internazionali proprio perchè le parti provengono da paesi diversi. L'internazionalità in tali contratti influenza ogni singola fase del rapporto tra le parti.
Si pensi, ad esempio, ai pagamenti (che vengono eseguiti tra banche di nazionalità diverse), ai rapporti con il personale (sia esso locale o espatriato) al direttore dei lavori (che può essere addirittura di una nazionalità diversa da quella del Committente e dell'Appaltatore).
Ma si pensi anche all'impatto che la legge applicabile al contratto può avere su questioni relative allo Scope of Work (su cui puoi leggere il nostro articolo Contratti Turnkey: lo Scope of Works), oppure alle Specifiche Tecniche e al rispetto della normativa tecnica locale (su cui puoi approfondire con il nostro articolo Contratti Turnkey: le Specifications).
O ancora sull'esecuzione dei Completion Test che alle volte possono richiedere la partecipazione di autorità pubbliche locali (Contratti Turnkey: i Completion Test) ed il rispetto di norme di sicurezza locali.
Si deve tener presente che, indipendentemente dalla legge che le parti sceglieranno per regolare il proprio rapporto, a quel determinato contratto di appalto internazionale si applicheranno inevitabilmente anche alcune delle leggi del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere eseguiti. Si pensi ad esempio alle leggi in materia di sicurezza nei cantieri, alle norme in materia di diritto del lavoro o ancora alle eventuali norme valutarie che regoleranno i pagamenti.
Se quindi da un lato è essenziale che le parti indichino nel loro contratto quale legge si applicherà, è altrettanto essenziale che le parti (soprattutto l'Appaltatore) siano pienamente coscienti di quali siano le norme della legge locale che si applicheranno indipendentemente dalla legge indicata nel contratto.
Non in tutti gli appalti internazionali le parti hanno piena libertà di scegliere la legge applicabile: si pensi all'ipotesi in cui il Committente sia un'entità statale oppure ai contratti i cui lavori devono essere eseguiti in paesi che obbligano le parti ad applicare la propria legge.

Quando invece le parti hanno libertà di scelta, spesso, nella prassi, si verificano due situazioni:
1. le parti indicano una specifica legge che governerà il loro rapporto;
2. le parti non indicano alcuna legge (a dire il vero cosa abbastanza rara negli appalti di medio-grandi dimensioni ma, come detto, molto frequente sia nei subappalti per la fornitura di componenti specifici sia in appalti di dimensioni minori).

Esaminiamo le due situazioni per fornire alcuni suggerimenti in merito alla scelta della legga applicabile.
1. Le parti indicano una specifica legge applicabile al contratto
In questa ipotesi rientrano i casi in cui le parti (più o meno consapevolmente) stabiliscono che il contratto sarà soggetto ad una determinata legge. E' certamente la scelta migliore ed il nostro suggerimento è quello di indicare sempre (ma in modo consapevole) una legge che regolamenterà il contratto.
Questa ipotesi si divide in due sotto-ipotesi.
a. Le parti scelgono la legge del paese del Committente o dell'Appaltatore.
Le parti possono scegliere la legge del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere eseguiti (che corrisponderà il più delle volta alla legge del Committente).
Questa è sicuramente la scelta più semplice proprio per quanto si diceva prima: esistono leggi e normative del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere eseguiti che si applicano necessariamente ed indipendentemente dalla legge che le parti scelgono.
L'Appaltatore potrebbe dunque avere una convenienza a scegliere la legge del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere eseguiti perchè ciò gli permetterà quanto meno di incaricare un solo avvocato che potrà assisterlo in tutte le problematiche di natura legale.
Se si riflette meglio, però, questa scelta può rivelarsi rischiosa in tutti quei casi in cui si tratti di applicare la legge di paesi sostanzialmente (e culturalmente) diversi dal nostro. Si pensi alle leggi dei paesi dell'area Middle East (dove l'influenza della sharjah law può essere determinante) oppure a paesi dell'ex Unione Sovietica.
Le parti possono scegliere la legge dell'Appaltatore. Questa è un'ipotesi abbastanza rara (ma che comunque capita). Non sembra una delle migliori scelte, salvo nel caso in cui ad esempio il contratto sia sostanzialmente un contratto di installazione di beni o macchinari che devono essere prevalentemente costruiti nel paese di origine dell'Appaltatore.
Si tratterà, in questa ipotesi, di verificare con attenzione se la legge dell'Appaltatore possa efficacemnte conciliarsi con la legge del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere eseguiti.
b. Le parti scelgono la legge di uno stato terzo (cioè una legge diversa da quella dell'Appaltatore, da quella del Committente e diversa anche dal luogo in cui i lavori vengono eseguiti).
Questa è sicuramente la scelta migliore ma solo se è fondata sulla base di alcuni principi essenziali:
  • si tratta di una legge che è comunemente applicata negli appalti internazionali;
  • si tratta di una legge che le parti hanno già avuto occasione di applicare ai propri contratti;
  • si tratta di una legge che riconosce sostanziale libertà alle parti di decidere quali clausole inserire nel contratto (e quindi di regolare il proprio rapporto su principi commerciali essenziali) e non invece di una legge che 'impone' determinate regole che potrebbero sostituire quello che le parti hanno stabilito nel proprio contratto.
Sfortunatamente capita abbastanza di frequente che le parti (anche solo per evitare che una parte possa avere un vantaggio nel caso in cui si scelga la legge del proprio stato) decidano di scegliere la legge di uno stato che non conoscono affatto. Non è raro trovare contratti di appalto intrenazionali regolati dalla legge svizzera e questo per il comune fraintendimento che si possa trattare di una legge che garantisce sufficiente indipendenza alle parti.
E' naturale che la soluzione migliore si ha quando le parti scelgono la legge di uno stato terzo ma a loro nota. Attenzione, perchè quando parliamo di 'legge di uno stato terzo ma nota alle parti' non intendiamo dire che le parti devono avere una piena conoscenza di quella determinata legge, ma intendiamo suggerire che le parti scelgano una legge con la quale esse hanno già avuto a che fare (ad esempio in un precedente appalto) oppure ad una legge che, su consiglio dei propri consulenti esperti in materia, dia sufficienti garanzie di equilibrio tra le parti e che sia spesso utilizzata negli appalti internazionali.
In tale ottica, la legge inglese è certamente una delle leggi maggiormente scelta in un contratto di appalto internazionale.
Senza alcuna pretesa di completezza, si deve ricordare che la legge inglese:
  • dà ampia libertà alla reale volontà delle parti (quindi permette alle parti di indicare i migliori termini contrattuali che consentano loro di raggiungere i propri obiettivi commerciali);
  • è molto meno stringente rispetto, ad esempio, alla legge di molti altri paesi europei, ad esempio in relazione a termini quali la buona fede;
  • permette ai giudici di interpetare un contratto sulla base di quello che le parti volevano realmente dire con una determinata clausola ma sempre nel rispetto degli interessi commerciali nel loro insieme.
Se si pensa, invece, alla legge italiana (come a molte delle altre leggi di civil law) ci si rende immediatamente conto che essa cerca di regolamentare ogni aspetto di un certo rapporto contrattuale fino a rendere quasi inutile la redazione di lunghi contratti in cui le parti indicano in dettaglio i loro rapporti.

2. Le parti non indicano alcuna legge.
Malgrado si tratti di un'ipotesi abbastanza rara negli appalti di medio-grandi dimensioni, si tratta di un'ipotesi che si verifica soprattutto con riferimento a subappalti per lavorazioni 'minori' o ai contratti di fornitura ed installazione o di sola fornitura.
Inutile dire che la mancata scelta di una legge applicabile comporta non solo un alto livello di incertezza nella gestione del contratto (sulla base di quale legge si stabiliranno gli ulteriori diritti ed obblighi delle parti? Come verrà interpetato il contratto? Sulla base di quale legge si stabilirà se la clausola risolutiva del contratto è valida o meno? Sulla base di quale legge si potrà stabilire se la clauosla penale è valida o se l'importo della penale è eccessivo?) ma porta con sè un rischio di enorme incertezza nel caso in cui sorgano dispute tra le parti.

Esistono tuttavia norme che, in ogni Pease, consentono di individuare quale sia la legge da applicare a quel determinato contratto che non abbia alcuna indicazione di legge applicabile. Norme che sono spesso complesse da ricostruire e che, a livello di prassi internazionale, verosimilmente porterà ad applicare la legge del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere o sono stati eseguiti (con tutte le compliczioni sopra descritte).

SUGGERIMENTI:
1.includere nel contratto una clausola che stabilisce quale legge si applica allo stesso;
2.scegliere una legge che sia ben nota ai consulenti legali esperti per essere una legge utilizzata spesso negli appalti internazionali;
3.scegliere una legge che sia sufficientemente sofisticata e prevedibile quanto alle conseguenza;
4.nel caso in cui si scelga (volontariamente o meno) la legge del luogo in cui i lavori devono essere eseguiti, incaricare un consulente locale per conoscere in anticipo quali sono le norme che un Appaltatore deve conoscere.
https://blog.bdalaw.it/contratto-di-appalto-internazionale-e-legge-applicabile

Autore: Elisabetta Ventrella, BDA Studio Legale

Despite the size of Afghanistan’s narcotics problem, opium eradication or interception got little attention by the U.S. new strategy on Afghan war

Another official, Gen. Abdul Khalil Bakhtiar, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister in charge of the counternarcotics police, said the insurgents had used the growing insecurity of the past two years to establish more refining labs, and move them closer to the opium fields.
General Bakhtiar estimated last year that there were 400 to 500 labs in the country, mostly in regions controlled or contested by the Taliban. His forces have destroyed over 100 of them. But then he admitted, “They can build a lab like this in one day.” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the group “had nothing to do” with processing heroin, and denied that major laboratories existed in the areas under its control. The Taliban have long profited from the opium trade by taxing and providing security for producers and smugglers. But increasingly, the insurgents are directly getting into every stage of the drug business themselves, rivaling some of the major cartels in the region — and in some places becoming indistinguishable from them. The opium economy in Afghanistan grew to about $3 billion in 2016, almost doubling the previous year’s total and amounting to about 16 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The increase in processing means the Taliban have been able to take a greater share of the $60 billion that the global trade in the Afghan opium crop is estimated to be worth. Demand remains high in Europe and North America: Ninety percent of the heroin on the streets of Canada, and about 85 percent in Britain, can be traced to Afghanistan, the State Department says. Despite the size of Afghanistan’s opium problem, not much is being done about it. Opium eradication or interception got little attention in the Trump administration’s new strategy for the Afghan war. Various police forces bear the brunt of the drug war in Afghanistan, but are often complicit in the opium trade themselves, feeding corrupt networks within the Afghan government, both locally and nationally.
The fight to disrupt the flow of Afghan drugs to Western and regional capitals, and cash to the coffers of the Taliban, has largely fallen on a small police unit, the National Interdiction Unit, of about 450 to 600 commandos who are mentored by American Special Forces. “We have to merge these two things together — the counterterrorism and the counternarcotics. It has to go hand in hand, because if you destroy one, it is going to destroy the other,” said Javid Qaem, the Afghan deputy minister of counternarcotics. Mr. Qaem said the situation could improve if opium crop eradication efforts factored more into the planning of security operations. He gave the example of Helmand Province, where eradication operations were attempted, but only started after this year’s crop had been harvested. “In Helmand, we were targeting to do more than 2,000 to 3,000 hectares of eradication,” Mr. Qaem said. “We couldn’t do anything there, none at all, because Helmand was almost an active battlefield, the entire province.” At the provincial level, counternarcotics officials have proved far from trustworthy, their directors often appointed by local strongmen or vulnerable to their influence. A senior counternarcotics official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals, recounted how the elite unit was painstakingly following a network of money launderers in one opium-rich province who were helping to import the chemicals needed for refining heroin. The officers finally had enough evidence to make a high-level arrest, nabbing one of the network’s leaders — only to lose him when a powerful police commander personally stepped in to set the suspect free. There was no recourse. In that environment, the small National Interdiction Unit, sequestered in a secure mountainside base in Kabul, has been one of the surest bets in striking against the opium and heroin networks. And even that has not been foolproof: Its top commander was replaced recently for failing a polygraph test and “was probably leaking information to hostile forces,” according to a report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The force also has a one-stop-shop justice center, advised by the British. A United States Army Special Forces member working with the unit said advisers accompanied the Afghan force on about 30 percent of its operations. Those usually end up as larger-scale raids in Taliban areas, requiring a more complex approach. “The Taliban derives its funding from the narcotics taxing, sales and trafficking,” said the adviser, who, like other Special Forces members spoke on condition that his name not be used. “It is a priority: We are specifically after denying Taliban their revenue.” The elite forces and their American advisers, often flying up to six helicopters from Kabul, operate at night. They land miles away from the target to avoid fire, and then make their way by foot. Still, the raids rarely, if ever, result in arrests; the suspects often flee as soon as they hear the motors. The operations last no more than a few hours, culminating with the torching of the drugs and equipment after a process of documentation. There are other indicators that more opium is being processed within Afghanistan, officials say, including data from the drug seizures and the amount of chemicals needed for the processing. In previous years, the amount of opium seized in Afghanistan would far outnumber, by at least five times, the processed morphine and heroin. In 2015, for example, about 30,000 kilograms, or 66,000 pounds, of opium was sized, compared with a little over 5,000 kilograms, or 11,000 pounds, of heroin and morphine combined. So far in 2017, the seizure numbers seem flipped, officials say: The amount of heroin and morphine, both requiring some level of processing, combined is almost double that of opium. The Afghan government said that so far this year it had seized about 73 tons of the chemical precursors needed for processing. That number for all of 2015 was just a little over 1.4 tons of solid and close to 5,000 liters, or about 1,300 gallons, of liquid precursors. One recent shipment alone, which cleared customs and was caught being transferred to another vehicle when agents found it, could have made 15 tons of heroin. If the initial data is any indication, the 2017 poppy harvest was another record year, Afghan officials say. Eradication was abysmal, with security forces unable to even raze fields in Sarobi, just 50 miles from the presidential palace in Kabul. Mr. Qaem, the deputy minister, said that just as eradication efforts were about to begin in Kabul District, the district’s leadership was changed. And workers were hard to find: They had to be brought in from other provinces, as the local laborers would not destroy their neighbors’ fields. But the biggest problem was hidden Taliban bombs, he said. Each day, before laborers could destroy the fields, demining teams had to first clear them of explosives.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on Heart of Asia

Центробанк ИРА инвестировал в американский фондовый рынок $50 млн

Центробанк ИРА впервые вложил значительную сумму в американский фондовый рынок.
Сумма вложений составила USD 50,000,000 и представители Центробанка надеются продолжить работать с фондовым рынком США. Афганский аналитик С.Туфан одобрил этот шаг, однако заявил, что потенциал этой отрасли практически не используется Афганистаном и что афганское бизнес-сообщество должно создать собственный фондовый рынок внутри страны.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Afghanistan is largely reliant on imports to meet its medicine needs, but up to 40% of imported drugs lack acceptable quality

The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have suspended operations of more than 900 medicine importing or manufacturing companies. The suspended companies include 817 from Afghanistan and over 100 from abroad. The move comes as part of crackdown on poor quality medicines and drug smuggling, according to the Public Health Ministry. Meanwhile, the National Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (NMHRA) warned the firms to produce documents within one month or get shut down permanently. Authorities have launched efforts to seize medicines related to the suspended firms and operations of about 100 pharmacies have been suspended. “Our personnel in coordination with the private sector have started collecting their medicines. Hundred tonnes of medicines have been seized so far and the process continues,” said an Official at NMHRA.

Issues affecting Internet use in Afghanistan

Elham Ghashghai and Rosalind Lewis

Afghanistan and the developing countries in the Middle East face a common shortcoming: They are missing out on much of the Information Revolution. Although pockets of high access to communications lines exist in these countries, for the most part, they lag far behind developed countries in their access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICT).[1] This paper examines some recent literature to identify the fundamental issues affecting the use of ICT, and particularly the Internet, in developing countries in the Middle East. Much of this research is also pertinent to Afghanistan, which, as a developing Islamic country, shares many cultural traditions with its Middle Eastern neighbors. In performing our research, we focused on key questions that broadly affect the region shown in the map. What social and cultural factors contribute to the "digital divide" in the Middle East? Is bridging the digital divide important to the continued economic and social development of the Middle East? If it is important, what should, or can, be done to facilitate the use of ICT? What additional information is needed to formulate effective policies to promote the use of ICT in the Middle East?
The gargantuan task of rebuilding Afghanistan has naturally been the focus of much attention recently. To a lesser degree, however, developing countries in the Middle East face challenges similar to those that Afghanistan faces: They need to strengthen and diversify their economies, educate and engage their young people, develop the infrastructures that support economic growth, and lure back the educated professionals and business-people who have fled to other countries. ICT will be instrumental in meeting these challenges, but recent history shows that Afghanistan and the Middle East are often suspicious of, and resistant to, technological change. If ICT is to fulfill the role of building and strengthening the economies of these countries, it must be adapted to the needs and cultures of its users.

Based on a report by the United Nations Science and Technology Group for Development (UNSTD), ICT strategies are often developed and publicized mainly to attract external investment to construct new infrastructures or to market hardware and software without giving sufficient attention to local concerns and requirements (Mansell and Wehn, 1998). These strategies give too little consideration to the plight of marginalized people and fail to build upon existing strengths in the local environment. The political and economic priorities of key decisionmakers often dictate the outcomes of these ICT strategies. (We will address these issues in greater depth in subsequent research.)

The UNSTD report emphasized that an urgent need exists to develop ICT strategies and actions that bring marginalized social and economic groups within reach of modern communications technologies. Such strategies must take into account that the user may be someone living in a small village, a factory worker controlling a robotic system on an assembly line, or a government official.

A number of organizations are working to bring the power of ICT to remote areas of developing countries worldwide. For example, the Los Angeles-based Greenstar Corporation (www.greenstar.org) is "a non-profit organization committed to bringing solar power, telemedicine, distance learning, electronic commerce, manufacturing, and agricultural support services to developing countries." While the Greenstar mission statement provides a specific approach or solution to the problem of bringing ICT technologies to these countries, it also raises some questions: What other organizational models would be effective for "cyber-site"[2] implementation? What sorts of financial or investment strategies can be employed? How much of a factor are political and cultural considerations?

Later in this paper, we outline two steps for developing viable approaches to facilitating Internet usage in developing countries. The first step is conducting research on potential users: What do potential users want or need that ICT could provide? What do they regard as the benefits, drawbacks, and inducements to using the Internet? The second step is the establishment of a prototype Internet center in a small town or village to test whether such a center can be tailored to local needs and traditions while helping inhabitants to realize the potential advantages of the Internet.

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST FACE A "DIGITAL DIVIDE"
"Digital divide" is a popular term that has many connotations. In this paper, we use it to describe a situation in which people are unable to access ICT with sufficient regularity or ease, or are unable to access it at all. Estimates of Internet usage in Afghanistan and the Middle East are difficult to determine. In the Middle East, many users may share one Internet service provider (ISP) account, so the actual number of users may be much higher than the number of ISP accounts. On the other hand, in regions with a relatively high expatriate population, overestimation may occur because expatriates are often counted as users and they are more likely to use the Internet to communicate with friends, family, and business acquaintances in their home countries. Finally, certain constraints, such as the prohibition of Internet access or the extensive monitoring of content in some countries, pose significant impediments to accurately assessing ICT usage in these regions. Meier (2000) notes that "data for poor regions are the least precise, or often [are] politically unavailable."

An indirect measure of ICT usage in various nations is based on a RAND Information Revolution (IR) assessment (Hundley, unpublished). Hundley developed a set of models for numerous countries and assigned each country to a specific model based on its "IR posture." He describes this posture as the "societal changes occurring as a result of IT [information technology] applications." In his definition of IR posture, Hundley considered several factors including "access to exploitable technologies." Many Middle Eastern countries were assigned country models that were near or just below the middle in the range of IR-posture models, while Afghanistan was assigned the lowest-rated model (signifying the least amount of IT development and the least amount of societal or economic changes related to IR). Even allowing for the difficulty of gathering accurate data, it is clear that the digital divide is a fact of life in Afghanistan and the developing countries of the Middle East.

WHY DOES THE DIGITAL DIVIDE EXIST?
Developing countries in the Middle East face the same problems as other developing countries around the world: low levels of education and literacy, poor technology infrastructures, and a wide gap between the disposable income of the relatively few "haves" and the more numerous "have-nots." Use of the Internet requires a fairly complex set of skills and technology. At the very least, one must have electricity, a communications line, a terminal capable of interacting across the communications lines, and (in most cases) a reasonable fluency in English (80 percent of the material on the World Wide Web is written in English; however, a movement to replace some English-language Web pages with Arabic-language ones is gaining momentum). All of these factors contribute to the digital divide.

In Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, government opposition to ICT has been a major factor in limiting Internet access. Many Middle Eastern leaders view the Internet as a Western-based agent of moral and political subversion. As a result, many countries strictly enforce limits on Internet connectivity. Whereas Egypt and Jordan have been relatively progressive in building Internet connections, countries such as Saudi Arabia have shown more resistance to allowing widespread access to the Net. Internet access is very limited in Syria, and Libya and Iraq prohibit any kind of Internet access. Bahrain and Tunisia openly monitor Internet traffic, and the United Arab Emirates and Yemen use proxy servers that can prevent users from accessing "undesirable" sites. Iran allows access, but the extent of the traffic monitoring in that country is uncertain (Alterman, 2000).

Our research suggests that cultural issues may be just as important as political issues in determining the use of the Internet in these countries. For many Arabs, the tradition of oral communication ("isnad") is considered to be more reliable and trustworthy than the text- and image-based information on the Internet. This may help to explain why certain types of ICT that have been successful in developing countries in the Middle East are oriented toward group usage or audio-visual communications (Fandy, 2000). For example, cyber-cafes, where groups of people are accessing the Web in a public place, are popular in major cities in Iran. Shafeeq Rushaidat Street in Irbid, Jordan, which is no more than a kilometer long, has the largest concentration of cyber-cafes in the world. Satellite television (often viewed by large groups of people) and VCR players are also popular throughout the region.

Finally, the economics of Internet access are crucial to the issue of limited usage in these countries. Users incur nonrecurring costs to purchase the necessary equipment (such as a computer or personal-digital-assistant device) to connect to the Internet. Users also incur recurring costs derived from the ISP (which provides connectivity and the services and/or applications required to send e-mail or surf the Net). This may suggest another reason for the popularity of cyber-cafes—they eliminate nonrecurring user costs and significantly reduce recurring costs.

For governments that are already reluctant to invest in new infrastructures, diverting scarce national resources to IT can seem like a waste of money. However, most Middle East observers agree with a United Nations report on this subject: "Although the costs of using ICT to build national information infrastructures are high, the costs of not doing so are likely to be much higher" (Mansell and Wehn, 1998).

THE INTERNET HAS ITS PROS AND CONS FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
There is an expectation that the Internet can bring a number of advancements to developing countries: enhanced business opportunities (including cross-border opportunities); better information in crucial areas such as health, agriculture, and commerce; improved education; and increased news and entertainment. But the Internet can bring problems, too. Many Middle Eastern states fear two by-products of the Internet in particular: dissemination of Western political thought and the spread of pornography. The region is politically turbulent, and many governments fear that the Internet will facilitate communication among subversive individuals and organizations. Pornography is an equally serious issue; in states with combined political and religious leadership, leaders are reluctant to embrace a technology that appears to encourage moral turpitude. Consequently, U.S. computer companies are actively selling firewalls to help the Saudi Arabian government block potentially offensive content from being downloaded to users' computers.

In reviewing the available literature, we found that while it is relatively easy to learn the viewpoints of Middle Eastern leaders and governments, it is difficult to ascertain the viewpoints of the Middle Eastern people. Little information is available on what Afghanis and other Middle Easterners think about the Internet, their level of awareness and interest in using the Internet, and their perceptions of its potential advantages and drawbacks. This gap in our knowledge must be filled, at least in part, before any meaningful steps can be taken to promote Internet usage in this region of the world.

It may be possible to gauge public receptivity to the Internet in these countries by examining the public receptivity to earlier forms of ICT. Satellite TV has gained in popularity due to lower costs, increased content offering, and compatible language programming. Photocopiers have "democratized the wide dissemination of messages at low cost and with anonymity" (Alterman, 2000). Fax machines are popular, and may become even more so if telephone service rates continue to fall. VCR tapes are popular because they are entertaining, easily duplicated, and reusable (Alterman, 2000). So how does the Internet compare with these technologies? Like satellite TV, the Internet has an ever increasing and changing content offering. While the Internet cannot compete with the low initial cost and anonymity of photocopied material, the connectivity is much faster and material broadcast over the Internet can potentially reach a much wider audience than material sent through the mail or over the fax lines. Playing a VCR tape may be more entertaining than reading a Web site, but tapes lack the Internet's capacity for interactive communication.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO MORE QUICKLY INTRODUCE THE BENEFITS OF USING THE INTERNET?
Before a viable approach can be formulated to more quickly bring the benefits of the Internet to Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East while avoiding the real (or perceived) disadvantages, a feasibility analysis must be performed. The questions to be investigated in such an analysis include the following:

* What is the current level of interest in the Internet in Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East? What are the perceptions of the general population regarding the Internet and its advantages and disadvantages?

* What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of increased access to the Internet from the government's point of view?

* What is the level of commercial (private industry) interest and support in promoting more widespread use of the Internet?

For countries that could potentially host more Internet facilities, certain questions must be answered in detail. For example: Is ICT important to the region? Where does development of an ICT infrastructure rank in relative importance to the development of other governmental or social objectives? Does the region have the resources and incentives to self-invest in ICT? For example, a successful ICT establishment must build upon existing strengths in the local community. Is there a market for ICT investment in the region? Is the region dependent on commodity exports? Observers note that countries that are heavily dependent on the export of commodities have difficulties in "growing" their own ICT capabilities (Hudson, 2000). What is the relative wealth of the area? In poorer areas, it is important to aim for sustainable objectives built around basic needs, health, and education (Meier, 2000). In wealthier areas, growth of ICT may be linked to gains in efficiency and quality in areas such as manufacturing, for example.

TESTING THE FEASIBILITY OF INCREASED INTERNET ACCESS
Based on our research, we suggest a two-step approach to testing the feasibility of enhanced Internet access in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East.

Step 1: Conduct Research on Potential Users

Select one or more potential areas for performing a feasibility analysis (as described in the preceding section), along with thorough user research. Because most people in developing countries do not live in large cities, we suggest that a small town or village be selected as the research area. The user research should produce definitive answers to questions such as: What are the potential benefits and drawbacks to Internet usage for the individual user? Which local institutions (such as mosques, schools, or cultural centers) would enjoy widespread participation? Have there been changes to social or political systems or modifications to the local environment or infrastructure (perhaps in response to changes instituted by established institutions) that would provide a greater inducement to use the Internet? These questions should be answered for both the general population and for specific groups (for example, local artisans and craftspeople).

Step 2: Establish a Prototype Internet Center

Based on the information gathered in Step 1, partner with a business or development organization to establish a prototype Internet center. Our research to date (which would be confirmed or modified by the location-specific research performed in Step 1) suggests that a successful Internet center will have a "human face." For example, it will probably feature one or more facilitators to provide translation services, relay messages, help make business contacts, and in general facilitate use of the Internet. To address any governmental concerns, the facilitators could be licensed by or supervised by the government. Business development (for instance, putting local artisans and craftspeople in touch with end buyers rather than middlemen) and job creation will probably be the primary motivations for establishing the center.

RAND's role in Step 1 would be to perform the feasibility analysis and user research. RAND's role in Step 2 would be to develop and implement an evaluation framework to test the success of the prototype center, and to evaluate whether this concept could be extended to additional sites.

The inexorable advance of Internet technology in the Middle East, however slow it may be, indicates that despite their every effort, governments will not be able to bar connectivity to the Internet indefinitely. However, the immediate needs of Afghanistan, and the slow pace of economic progress throughout the Middle East, suggest that steps should be taken promptly to develop a practical and culturally acceptable approach to helping the general population take advantage of the benefits of ICT.
https://www.rand.org/pubs/issue_papers/IP231/index2.html

Pakistan building massive fence on Afghanistan border

The Government of Afghanistan to build two more dams in Herat Province

The Ministry of Energy and Water of  the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is working on the procurement process for two dam projects which will be built on the Harirod River in Herat province – in the west of Afghanistan. 
The biggest plant on the Harirod River is the Salma Dam built by India. The budget for Teerpul and Kabgan power dams will be allocated for the Ministry of Energy and Water in the next fiscal year, 2018, the deputy minister of energy and water told journalists. The project is aimed at controlling the millions of cubic meters of water which flows to neighboring countries every year and to irrigate hundreds of hectares of land. Teerpul Dam will be built in Kohsan and Ghorian districts in the north west of Herat – 20 kilometers from Afghanistan’s border with Iran. Meanwhile, Kabgan Dam will be built in Pashtun Zarghon district in the north of Herat. “These projects are specifically included in our procurement plan. The procurement processes of the two projects are in progress. We will sign contracts with eligible companies which will complete the conditions,” the deputy minister of energy and water said. Meanwhile, Herat residents and members of the provincial council welcomed the move and said it will bring a major change in the country’s economy. “Many of districts are far and do not benefit from the Salma Dam (in the east of Herat). It will be great if the Teerpul and Kabgan dams are constructed in order to address the needs of the people,” representative of Herat provincial council said. “We can foresee a brighter future for Herat’s agriculture and development if the dams are built,” said a resident of Herat. The construction of Teerpul and Kabgan dams have been under consideration by different governments for the past three decades. Teerpul will be the third dam after Poozalich Dam in Ghor province and Salma Dam in Herat.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Afghanistan: Foreign traders and investors to get 'entry visa' on arrival at Kabul International Airport

Foreign traders and investors will be facilitated with visa-on-arrival at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says. Certain provisions of a draft amendment to the Law on the Travel and Stay of Foreigners in Afghanistan provide for the facility in line with Presidential Decree No 147 issued on the 5th day of September.

A statement from the ministry said the new amendment to 10th, 16th and 27th clauses of the travel law were in compliance with paragraph 16 of Articles 64 and 70 of the Constitution of Afghanistan. The new provisions were drafted by the Cabinet in September and then endorsed by the president. Foreign entrepreneurs entering Afghanistan would be provided with visas on arrival at the Hamid Karzai Airport. The statement added the exclusive visas would be issued by representatives of Afghan Border Police (ABP) under the Ministry of Interior (MoI) after an assessment of documents by MoFA officials at the airport. The visas will be granted on payment of specific amount of application fee based on the amended Article 27, according to the MoFA statement.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Monday, 23 October 2017

US 'sanction-threats'' against Iran could put at risk investments already made by Afghan entrepreneurs in the port of Chabahar

The deteriorating relations between the United States and Iran, coupled with the threat of return of sanction regime, have once again put India in a fix. Government officials confide that pace of work on projects such as Chabahar port and building railway and road networks would get affected if the US President Donald Trump operationalises his threats against Tehran. Sources said the issue will prominently figure during the October 24 visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. What is worrisome is that ahead of Tillerson's visit, a top US official has asked countries to take a hard look at their business partners in Iran. "What we're asking is for countries to take a hard look at who you're doing business with in Iran and to understand who are the beneficial owners of these companies," the official said, warning against business deals with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-controlled companies. Recently, while deposing before a parliamentary panel, officials conceded that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project hasn't moved forward since 2008 in the wake of sanctions on Iran. rime Minister Narendra Modi had prioritised the connectivity project in Central Asia and the Chabahar port in Iran to provide a key route to Afghanistan, while bypassing Pakistan. During his visit to Tehran last May, Modi had promised to accentuate work on Indian commitments and develop two terminals and five berths at Chabahar port located on the Gulf of Oman, within 18 months. India and Iran are simultaneously also developing the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) together with Russia, connecting the Gulf of Oman to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. These projects are crucial for India as they present an alternative to China's One Belt One Road initiative and also a counter to Gwadar in Pakistan's Balochistan. But the sanctions slapped by the Trump administration and threats of more sanctions has put India's diplomats in a quandary. Though none of the 12 companies put on the US sanction list recently have any business with India, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) fears that the prospect of their expansion has potential to hit the port as well as the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) between Iran and P5+1 on Iran's nuclear program and the corresponding easing of sanctions, concluded last July, has provided the long-awaited opening for India. Iranian Ambassador in New Delhi Gholamreza Ansari recently accused the US of trying to ensure that India reduced oil imports from his country. "The US wants to deprive Iran of the Indian energy market," he said. India has cut its oil imports from Iran by approximately 20% in 2017, though its global imports have risen by 5.4%. Some companies, such as Essar oil, have dropped imports from Iran in August by as much as 75%, according to oil industry estimates. The US has made it quite clear that countries doing business with Iran should ensure that their economic relationships with Iran do not lead to the strengthening of the IRGC in particular and their ability to do so much harm to so many people. Under previous Western sanctions, India had devised a barter-like scheme acceptable to Washington that allowed it to make some oil payments to Tehran in rupees through UCO Bank. But since sanctions were partly lifted early last year, the rupee account has been run down by more than 90% to just Rs 2,000 crore ($305 million) because Indian refiners have resumed paying for Iranian oil in Euros. Sources here say as the tensions re-emerge, India was looking at reverting to the old rupee mechanism. Officials here said the government was still in a wait-and-watch mode and closely monitoring Trump's approach towards Iran. But they concede that of late, reports of western manufacturers shying away from supplying equipment for the Chahbhar port for fear the fresh sanctions are hitting New Delhi's strategic ambitions in the region.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The ambiguity of U.S. goals in Afghanistan has turned the country into a staging ground of a war which is escalating day by day

US Senator John McCain (often traveling to Afghanistan),
has been caught with ISIS terrorist leaders in Syria.
There is a serious need to redefine the Afghan-US relations because they are not based on mutual interests since 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime. Since the beginning of this involvement, the United States has been pursuing only its interests, and Afghanistan has not been considered a valuable partner in this equation despite making a lot of sacrifices over the last decade and a half. The US still has the final say in all affairs, and that is mostly against Afghan interests.
US activities indicate the superpower is still pursuing its interests in Afghanistan in the protraction of the conflict. The ambiguity of American goals or at least its non-correspondence with Afghan side has turned the country into a staging ground of a war, which has no end in sight after 16 years of fighting, and is escalating day by day. As per the American design, the war has reached a phase in which all victims are Afghans. Americans are staying safe in their military bases, but Afghan people are caught between a rock and a hard place in the midst of the conflict. On the one hand, insurgent suicide and complex attacks claim their lives, but on the other hand the US bombs their homes, villages and wedding ceremonies. This is the price Afghan people are paying for their friendship with the US.
The more the political and security situation worsens in the country, the greater the need to redefine Afghan-US relations and ask the US to clarify its goals in Afghanistan becomes. There is an ever serious need to eliminate the ambiguities by responding to the questions about American military presence. Unless bilateral Afghan-American relations are clearly defined, and the US stops fishing in troubled waters, it is impossible to prevent bloodshed and violence in Afghanistan.
The upshot of the continuation of Afghanistan’s friendship with the United States in the current form is the protraction of war and changing the country into a staging ground for the showdown of global superpowers. Leaders of the National Unity Government and all political leaders should join hands to steer the country out of the ongoing tragedy. To this end, redefining Afghan-US relations and asking the US to clarify its goals in Afghanistan is the first step they should take. It is an injustice to see the Afghan nation paying a heavy price for ever for friendship with the US, while American troops target their allied Afghan forces besides civilians and insurgents from their safe bases.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on Heart of Asia

Sunday, 22 October 2017

There is a need for accurate planning to develop Afghanistan’s cities: President Ghani

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The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, addressed the 12th Silk Road Mayors Forum and said there was a need for accurate planning to develop Afghanistan’s cities. He regarded Afghanistan as the key region in the Silk Road reconstruction and said countries involved in the Silk Road’s route should have more cooperation with each other. “Afghanistan’s role as the Asia’s crossroad should be kept in the reconstruction plan. It is a need to concentrate on urban development, economic development and common points. The railway and the optic fiber network will be established,” the President Ghani said. Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister Sayed Mansoor Naderi said the new Silk Road will contribute immensely to the economic growth in the region. Kabul Municipality hosted the Silk Road Forum which was attended by mayors from the countries involved in Silk Road. The Forum provided an opportunity for Kabul Municipality to build long-lasting relationships with its counterparts in the region and also seek institutional capacity-building support in areas of urban planning and development that meets international standards.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
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Thursday, 19 October 2017

#InvestInAFG - YOU CAN STOP CORRUPTION

If in Afghanistan you put yourself against corrupt officials, you will have few friends, but the right ones.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Turkish Airlines signed a contract with Afghanistan Carpet Union

The agreement will help Afghan businessmen sell their carpets to almost 300 destinations around the world, especially to Europe.
A Turkish airline has agreed to fly Afghan carpets to 300 destinations at a discounted rate of 50 percent. The agreement was signed between Carpet Producers Union of Afghanistan and Turkish Airlines in Kabul. Afghan businessmen will be charged $2.5 USD per kilogram to transport their carpets to European countries. The carpets will reach their destinations within three days. “The goal is to create direct contact between the Afghan businessmen and the company so that their carpets can reach the target market by the given time,” said Jamal Muradian, director for international cargo at Turkish Airlines. Members of the union said the agreement will provide them the chance to increase their turnover. Jamran Qasemi, marketing officer at a carpet company in Kabul, said that they have an online software program for their customers where they can place their orders and choose their colors and sizes. “We are improving. Our customers from around the world are familiar with our products therefore it is crucial for us to use different ways to sell the carpets produced by our company,” Qasemi said. Other members of the union called on government to provide them with further marketing opportunities. “Now the cost of transferring carpets abroad has sharply decreased. Before the agreement with Turkish Airlines, we were paying $2 for each kilogram of carpet just to Dubai but now we are paying 8 cents,” said Sayed Abbas, a member of the union. Officials from the Ministry of Commerce has said they continue their efforts to provide better ways for the export of domestic goods, especially carpets.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
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Авиакомпания Turkish Airlines заключила контракт с афганскими производителями ковров об экспорте их продукции

Соглашение было подписано в Кабуле. По его условиям авиакомпания будет поставлять афганские ковры более чем в 300 городов назначения со скидкой в 50%. Срок транспортировки составит не более трёх дней.
"Нашей целью было наладить прямой контакт между афганскими бизнесменами и авиакомпанией, чтобы ковры могли попадать к покупателям в срок", прокомментировал соглашение директор Turkish Airlines по международным грузоперевозкам Д.Мурадиан.
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The World Food Program (WFP) received a US$1 million contribution from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to assist approximately 38,000 vulnerable people in Afghanistan

The World Food Program (WFP) received a US$1 million contribution from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to provide urgent food and nutrition assistance to people affected by food crisis in Afghanistan. 
The contribution will assist approximately 38,000 vulnerable people including Afghan returnees from Pakistan in eastern Afghanistan as well as internally displaced families in central and southern regions. “This contribution is an opportunity to start a partnership between WFP Afghanistan and China” said Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan. He added that as winter draws near, displaced people in the country are faced with difficulties and as a friendly and close neighbor to Afghanistan, China hopes to work with WFP in helping Afghan people get through the food crisis. “My sincere thanks go to China’s government for its first contribution to WFP’s emergency operation in Afghanistan. WFP Afghanistan sees this exciting development as a foundation for a new and fruitful partnership between WFP Afghanistan and the Government of China that will help achieve our shared vision of an Afghanistan free from hunger” said Paul Howe, WFP Deputy Country Director for Afghanistan. In 2017, WFP plans to assist up to 2.9 million food insecure people in Afghanistan by providing food or cash to those affected by conflict and natural disasters, as well as additional nutrition support, disaster risk reduction activities and school meal take-home rations for girls and boys in food insecure areas. In addition, WFP is providing food and cash assistance to more than 550,000 internally displaced people, refugees and returnees.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Truck drivers in western Farah province of Afghanistan complain of being forced into paying bribes

Truck drivers in western Farah province complain of being forced into paying bribes during their journey. Statistic show five million afghanis are paid daily in illegal gratification to police and Taliban. The truckers are brazenly fleeced at 20 police posts and in Taliban-controlled areas of Pushtkoh district, where truck drivers start their journey from the Shaikh Abu Nasar Farahi Port to Farah City, the provincial capital. From there, the goods-laden vehicles move to the Farah Rod area of Bala Baluk district, but the drivers are compelled to meet illegal demands from police and militants, Pajhwok Afghan News has reliably learnt. The Abu Nasar Port is situated on the border with Iran, from where 200 trucks carrying goods departs for Farah City daily. On average, the driver of every goods-laden truck is forced to pay 24,000 afghanis to police and Taliban. In addition to paying taxes at the Abu Nasar Port, truck drivers have to grease the palm of law-enforcement personnel as well as Taliban. The custom duty varies, depending on the nature of commodities.

Taliban extortion: The Taliban have been extorting truckers in the Mullah Lalo locality of Pushtkoh district for a month and a half. The village is situated 15 kilometers northeast of Pushtkoh district -- considered to be one of insecure areas. Farah Custom Director Abdul Haleem Himmat said according to the department’s record, 160 trucks entered Farah City legally procedure and illegally. He admitted militants in Pushtkoh extorted the drivers -- an issue shared with the governor. Wazir Ahmad Farahi, a trucker from Farah City, said: “For the past one and a half month, the Taliban have been coercing drivers into illicit payments in Mullah Lalo locality.” He added the Taliban formally gave receipts to the drivers paying the so-called toll tax. From 1,000 to 8,000 afghanis are extorted from every truck driver transporting trade good. The guerrillas receive 8,000 afghanis from the driver of every oil tanker, 6,000 afs from each truck carrying chicken, 5,000 afs from every the trucker transporting steel, 1,500 to 3,000 afs from those carrying marbles or construction materials. Similarly, 1,000 to 2,000 afs are charged from truckers carrying cements or fertilizer. He reckoned around 200 trucks passed through the area daily. In addition, 200 more vehicles carrying fuel to other provinces also ply this route. Noor Ahmad, another driver, endorsed Wazir Ahmad’s claim. He said around 80 trucks carrying oil, 25 with steel, 75 with cement, 25 with marbles and others with different types of goods travel the road. Some drivers urged the government not to let the Taliban extort truckers while other welcomed the militant check-posts and said security of the area had improved. Some groups stealing goods from trucks had fled the area, they explained. Musa, a drive, said: “With Taliban’s arrival, security threats have gone away and drivers comfortably travel through the area.” Wazir Ahmad Farahi also said dacoits, previously active in the area, robbed drivers of merchandise. But with the establishment of Taliban posts, security had improved and the area, he acknowledged. Governor Mohammad Arif Shah Jahan confirmed the Taliban presence in Pushtkoh district and extortion of truck drivers by the rebels. “Within the available resources, we are trying to prevent Taliban’s influence.” “The enemy wants to create custom offices in Pushtkoh, Shibkoh, Khak-i-Safid and Bala Baluk districts as a source of income. We have shared the issue with the center. Kabul has promised taking strict measure to purge these areas of Taliban,” he added.

Extortion by Police: At more than 20 police check-posts in Pushkoh and Shibkoh districts, as well as the Farahrod area of Bala Baluk district truckers are fleeced, according to driver Khuda-i-Rahim. “Every truck driver has to pay 1000 to 2,000 or even 3,000 afghanis to police. We are beaten up and insulted and police snatch our cell phones in case we refuse to pay bribes,” he alleged. A driver who wished to go unnamed charged every trucker had to pay total 20,000 at police posts while traveling the route Between the Shaikh Nasar Port to Farah City, there are 10 police-check-posts. Another 10 exist between Farah City and Farahrod. Based on estimates, 3.6 million afghanis are snatched daily at police posts between Shaikh Nasar Port and Farahrud. The deputy police chief, Gulbahar Bahadur, also confirmed some police post extorted money from truckers. “Though policemen don’t have enough salaries and food, yet they reserve no right to extort drivers. "We will transfer the cops involved in the unlawful practice to other places as part of the reform purpose. If reforms happened, that will be good. If they aren't enforced, we will have to rethink about them."
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on Heart of Asia

Afghan parliamentarian Aryan Yoon strongly believed there was high-level corruption in the 10% Telecom Service Tax imposed on mobile phone user

The government should remain accountable for the alleged corruption committed in telecommunication service tax, the lawmakers and analysts stress, saying the government’s quietude about the issue is extremely worrisome. They call on the government to seriously investigate the major graft case, and bring to justice all individuals and institutions involved in it. Aryan Yoon, a female lawmaker, says: "The government should explain where the telecom tax money went? If it is stolen, who stole it? If not, why the government cannot provide explanation to the people for the collected tax?" Yoon strongly believed there was high-level corruption in the 10 % telecom service tax imposed on mobile phone users, and the lowest echelons of government did not have any role in the case, so that was why government leaders were tightlipped about it. Abdul Wali Wahab, a political expert, said the government was quiet about the issue because it did not have a satisfactory response to the people, and wanted to whitewash the scandal like other major cases of corruption, urging the world to press Afghan government to be accountable to its people. Having doubts even about the system on which the government has been working to transparently collect the telecom tax, a famous Afghan technical expert, Noor Rahman Liwal, has claimed in an op-ed article that the Call Detail Record (CDR) not only could not curb corruption in the telecom tax collection, but would also professionalize and entrench it because the telecom service providers would have full control of it, and its transparency was not guaranteed. Refusing to declare its stance on the corruption in telecommunication tax for now, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) said they would comment on the issue in the future.
Meanwhile, the acting minister of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) acknowledged there was no special system in place to collect the 10 percent tax on mobile top cards, but it was being developed. Shahzad Gul Aryobi told reporters in Kabul last week that all necessary arrangements, including provision of equipment, were made and the system was expected to become operational in the next four months. This comes as Wolesi Jirga suspended the Telecommunication Tax Law last week based on which 10 percent fee was imposed on mobile phone users. The lawmakers said the MoCIT had promised to create an electronic tax collection system in six months to ensure transparency, but the system was yet to be rolled out even after two years.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Why Ajit Doval had to suddenly visit Afghanistan?


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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Афганская авиакомпания начинает авиасообщение между Нью Дели и Мазари-Шарифом

Афганская авиакомпания “Kam Air” объявила о начале пассажирского авиасообщения с Нью-Дели из аэропорта Мазари-Шарифа. По словам директора аэропорта Мохаммада Асифа, в ближайшем будущем планируется наладить и грузового авиасообщения по тому же маршруту, и в ближайшем будущем из Мазари-Шарифа в Индию будет налажен экспорт сельскохозяйственной продукции.

6 buoni motivi per iscriverti all'A.I.R.E. se sei residente in Afghanistan

L’Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all’Estero (A.I.R.E.) è stata istituita con legge 27 ottobre 1988, n. 470 e contiene i dati dei cittadini italiani che risiedono all’estero per un periodo superiore ai dodici mesi. Essa è gestita dai Comuni sulla base dei dati e delle informazioni provenienti dalle Rappresentanze consolari all’estero. L’iscrizione all’A.I.R.E. è un diritto-dovere del cittadino (art. 6 legge 470/1988) e costituisce il presupposto per usufruire di una serie di servizi forniti dalle Rappresentanze consolari all’estero, nonché per l’esercizio di importanti diritti.
  • 1 - L’ufficio consolare sa che ci sei e ti può aiutare. Se ti iscrivi all’A.I.R.E. l‘Ufficio consolare sa che ti trovi nel Paese e, se lo richiedi, ti inserirà nella sua mailing list, inviandoti informazioni e aggiornamenti su eventi, iniziative culturali, opportunità, etc. Se sei iscritto, l’Ufficio consolare potrà intervenire più facilmente se dovessi essere in difficoltà.
  • 2 - E' più semplice avere il passaporto, la carta d'identità ed altri documenti. Passaporto e carta d’identità. Puoi ottenerli nei nostri uffici senza dover tornare in Italia. Fai attenzione alla data di scadenza del tuo documento: per i maggiorenni il passaporto ha validità di 10 anni, per i minorenni varia tra i 3 e i 5 anni. Fai la richiesta in tempo.
  • 3 - Puoi votare per posta nelle elezioni politiche e nei referendum. In occasione delle elezioni politiche e dei referendum, gli iscritti A.I.R.E. hanno diritto a votare per corrispondenza (legge 459/2001). Riceverai il plico elettorale direttamente a casa tua. Se invece preferisci votare in Italia, invia una comunicazione scritta entro dieci giorni dall’indizione delle elezioni all’ufficio consolare (cd. “opzione”).
  • 4 - Puoi celebrare il tuo matrimonio o unione civile. Puoi richiedere di celebrare il tuo matrimonio o unione civile presso un Ufficio consolare italiano. Attenzione, non è possibile se vi si oppongono le leggi locali o quando i partner non risiedono nella circoscrizione consolare (d.lgs. 71/2011, art. 12; legge 76/2016).
  • 5 - Puoi richiedere la trascrizione di atti di stato civile. Il matrimonio o l’unione civile celebrati all’estero, per avere validità in Italia, devono essere trascritti presso il Comune italiano. L’Ufficio consolare può assicurare la legalizzazione degli atti, tradotti, e trasmetterli in Italia. Lo stesso procedimento può essere eseguito per gli altri atti di stato civile. Per avere valore in Italia, devono essere trascritte tutte le variazioni di stato civile che si verificano durante la permanenza all'estero (nascita, cittadinanza, matrimonio o unione civile, divorzio ....).
  • 6 - Sei in regola con gli obblighi di legge ed eviti imposizioni non dovute. Eviti di pagare tasse non dovute ed usufruisci del trattamento più favorevole previsto dagli accordi bilaterali per evitare le doppie imposizioni, laddove presenti.
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European Union €100M package to support key reforms in Afghanistan

The European Union (EU) approved a €100 million package to support Afghanistan in carrying out reforms to improve its development policies, maintain macroeconomic stability, advance sound public financial management and strengthen state budget transparency.
The EU's decision follows a positive assessment on progress in these reform areas over the last twelve months against the background of a challenging security situation. It is part of a State Building Contract (SBC) signed with the Government of Afghanistan during the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on 4 October 2016. This EU financial contribution for Afghanistan is meant to support the Government of Afghanistan in creating growth and jobs and to ensure service delivery during a time of uncertainty that includes significant risks to the economy. H.E. Eklil Hakimi, Minister of Finance said: “The approval of this allocation means that Afghanistan has been making significant progress in crucial areas such as public policy, macroeconomic, financial management and budget transparency and oversight. We welcome conditionality-based mechanism, such as the State-Building Contract, they give the Government of Afghanistan flexibility and fiscal space to respond quickly to our countries evolving development priorities and reaffirm our mutual commitments to see a prosperous, stable and self-reliant Afghanistan. I thank the EU, its member states, and the people of Europe for their generous support to Afghanistan”. Franz-Michael Mellbin, EU Special Representative and Head of Delegation, said: "The allocation approved today is a very tangible demonstration of the EU's long-standing commitment to Afghanistan and its people. Following an overall positive review of progress on key reform commitments, the EU's State Building Contract makes a direct contribution to the National Budget and provides the Government of Afghanistan with substantial financial resources and flexibility to allocate these where they are most needed. The purpose is to improve services to the population, boost economic growth and reduce poverty, at a time when Afghanistan continues to face major security, economic and political challenges." The SBC supports the Government of Afghanistan to implement the reform agenda presented at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan held in October 2016, as set out in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework and the associated National Priority Programmes, to promote effective governance, women's economic empowerment and basic service delivery (Citizens' Charter).

Friday, 13 October 2017

US war is basically to claim victory but at the cost of Afghan lives

In August, US President Donald Trump announced a plan to boost US troops presence in Afghanistan, raising the number of soldiers from 8,400 to 11,000. As part of the new strategy under the Trump administration, the US military will also train and advise Afghan security forces in the fight against the growing influence of Taliban armed group. But not all Afghans are impressed with Trump’s focus on winning the war against the Taliban militarily, as it fails to address problems like unemployment, corruption and lack of education and health. Afghans are worried at the rising civilian casualties in recent years. Armed groups such as Taliban, which control large parts of the country, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) have exacted a heavy toll on civilian lives. On the other hand, hundreds have become a collateral damage to the US drones/air raids. According to a July UN report, the number of civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan reached a record high in the first six months of 2017.
  • Al Jazeera speaks to Afghans about their fear and hope amid a resurgent Taliban and more American boots on the ground.
Ramiz Rayan, Doctor at Sardar Mohammad Dawood Khan Military Hospital, Kabul
If we look at the new US strategy, we see that both sides, the Taliban and the US, are talking about winning. It is sad to see that no one is talking about the people living in the midst of this battle. When I see so many dead and injured rushed to our hospital, it makes me wonder what is the point of this war? I am not sure what will happen in the future and what do we have to do to survive, but I know one thing that ultimately, this war has affected us tremendously, mentally and physically. You will find many people going through permanent post-traumatic stress disorder, which in most cases are not even identified, let alone being treated. We've lost hope, but as a young Afghan, I will still continue to work for this country and help as a doctor.
Seraajul-al-Din Alimi, Psychologist
It does not make any difference whether we accept the presence of the US troops in Afghanistan or not. It is happening and we, as Afghans, cannot stop it. If you look at their (US troops) method of fighting the war, it seems like they are not looking at the overall picture of the country while taking decisions. They are not looking at providing a safe future. Instead, they are focusing on winning a war. So this war is basically to claim victory but at the cost of Afghan lives. Many innocent people have died and will continue to die, with or without the US. The war has taken a toll on us. Many people have been born and brought up in this war and have a war-driven mentality. This is not normal. No child deserves to grow up in a war-torn country. So at this point, we as Afghans, would want the US troops to leave and let us decide the fate of our country ourselves. As no matter what they did in the past, they failed in pushing the Taliban back and decreasing the number of attacks.

>>> SOURCE: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/09/afghans-troop-increase-safer-170930091835342.html

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Afghanistan’s economy could grow by 6.5% a year in next 12 years

According to World Bank’s recently released report, Afghanistan’s economy could grow by 6.5% a year between now and 2030, if the country properly uses its resources, mainly in mining and agriculture sectors. The World Bank has called on the government to enhance its efforts in developing the mining sector to help boost economic growth. The Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) assures that a proper strategy is in place to attract investment and to use the mines effectively. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture said numerous programs have already been launched to boost the sector and increase domestic revenue. The report says that if domestic produce could eventually replace imported produce if promoted properly. It further urges the government to improve tax collection system and undertake further measures to attract foreign investment. Afghanistan’s economic recovery remains slow with continuing insecurity curbing private investment and consumer demand. Growth is projected to accelerate slightly from 2.6 percent in 2017 to 3.4 percent in 2018. However, with population growth of nearly 3 percent, such a level of economic growth means minimal income per capita growth. Sustained economic growth requires transforming the economy through better health and education, improved agriculture, and the development of the country’s mining resources.
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The cost of internet services in Afghanistan will decrease by 60 to 80%

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) is working on a draft plan, suggested by the president, to lower the cost of internet services to the public.  According to the MCIT spokesman, Najib Nangiyal, the cost of internet services could drop by between 60 and 80 percent within the next three months. “According to a decree by President (Ashraf Ghani) during a meeting last week, we are working on a plan and the cost of internet services will decrease by 60 to 80 percent across the country and in all telecommunication companies,” he said. Eight months ago, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology vowed to decrease the cost of internet services by up to 20 percent. However, Kabul residents claim that no change has occurred in price nor in the quality of services provided. Kabul residents said this time the promise made by the ministry is similar to the commitment it made in the past – which was not delivered on. “The private telecommunication companies are thinking about filling their pockets not about the quality of their services or decreasing the prices. But government has control over the state-owned company,” said Waheedullah, a resident of Kabul. “They (the telecommunication companies) should try to decrease the price at some level and deliver their commitments which they make every day,” said Rahmat, a resident of Kabul. According to MCIT, at least 3.5 million people are using internet services in the country. The ministry says the number will considerably increase in the upcoming years.
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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Afghanistan: Bidders can voice any concerns before a contract is actually legally formed and awarded

The World Bank has a new, modern and business-friendly Procurement Framework. This modernized approach means greater focus on value for money, more ways bidders to differentiate bids, and more opportunities for dialogue and discussion.
World Bank procurement staff are based in 72 countries to support borrowers throughout the procurement process. Staff work with governments to achieve the highest bidding and contract management standards to get the best development result.
Under the new procurement framework, there are four key innovations to help businesses and country clients:
  • 1 - Needs and risks of a project are analyzed through a Project Procurement Strategy for Development (PPSD). This analysis enables the borrower to have a strategy on how best to engage with bidder. The analysis will ensure that procurement processes are fit for purpose, allow choice, and are appropriate to the size, value, and risk of the project.
  • 2 - Value for Money has been introduced as a core procurement principle in all procurements financed by the World Bank. This means a shift in focus from the lowest evaluated compliant bid to bids that provide the best overall value for money, taking into account quality, cost, and other factors as needed.
  • 3 - The approach to resolving procurement-related complaints has been significantly improved with capacity to promptly respond to any concerns during the procurement process. A standstill period has been introduced - a pause between identifying who should win the contract and actually awarding them the contract so that other bidders can voice any concerns before a contract is actually legally formed and awarded.
  • The World Bank will be more involved in contract management of procurements with high value and high risk to ensure the best possible outcomes and that problems are resolved quickly.