Afghanistan: Armed groups, MPs, officials involved in illegal mining — report

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KABUL (TCA) — The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) on December 10 released its first report on mining in Afghanistan, in which it says that the mines’ contracts are unclear and were signed after political consideration, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

According to officials from MEC, they wrote the report after assessing 60 former contracts, nine active contracts and 266 interviews with people in nine provinces.

MEC in its report said the Taliban, illegal armed groups, a number of members of Wolesi Jirga (the Lower House of Parliament) and Meshrano Jirga (the Upper House of Parliament), and even some government departments and officials are involved in illegal mining and mines’ smuggling in the country.

MEC says political consideration in signing mining contracts has paved the way for influential figures to interfere in the process and also for illegal groups to get ransom from mines’ extractions.

According to the MEC report, illegal armed groups receive money as ransom from mines’ extractions and even some local government officials, who do not have the authority for collecting mining revenue, are involved in collecting mines’ income.

The report says that prolonging the signing of mining contracts and unclear contracts are the biggest challenges that pave the way for intervention by influential people, and create embezzlement and corruption in the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.

MEC officials said in order to prevent problems in mining and mining contracts, the reform strategy at the Mines and Petroleum Ministry should be reviewed. The contacts of political figures with the ministry’s officials should be officially registered and recorded, and good cooperation mechanisms should be built between the ministry and other government departments.

Afghanistan is rich in mineral deposits, whose development could bring in large revenues to the state but requires large financial investment.

Sergey Kwan

TCA