Foreign Investments: CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES

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Afghanistan offers tremendous opportunities for foreign investors as the government focuses on rapid infrastructure development to woo them and address some of their nagging concerns
 
 
The mines of gold, silver, copper, iron and some other natural substances are commonly used for various industrial purposes. Afghanistan boasts of many potential opportunities for foreign investors especially in the area of mines, agriculture etc. Investment in these fields can give much-needed fillip to local products and create more job avenues for Afghans.
 
U.S. Department of Defense estimates the value of mines in Afghanistan as one trillion USD, while some Afghan officials put it at three trillion USD.
 
Afghanistan will be able to become self-reliant if the government focuses and works on the mines sector. Chinese, Indian, Turkish, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Polish and Qatar investors have always expressed their keenness to invest in this field, but only the contract of extracting copper mine in Logar province and gas mine in Northern provinces have been signed with some foreign companies so far.
 
High Economic Council (HEC) was conceived by President Hamid Karzai on October 14 this year to woo potential foreign investors to invest in Afghanistan. All the top ministers holding the fortfolios of finance, economy, commerce and mines, besides Economic Advisor to President, Vice Presidents, three representatives from Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and three representatives from Academy of Science and Universities (ASU) were included in this council.
 
HEC envisaged an investment support policy to prevent capital flight and encourage the foreign investors. The policy was approved by President Karzai and was announced on July 21 this year.
 
As per the policy, the foreign investors who show willingness to invest in Afghanistan will be granted subsidy. Tariff of customs will be reduced for them and there would be additional amenities in terms of land and electricity.
According to this supporting policy, some other facilities would be provided to them in different areas. That includes land and civic hygiene tax immunity, discounts in electricity usage, upto one million USD loan and immunity in customs machinery tax. There are many other facilities as well, like charging one per cent customs tax on raw materials; facility of issuing license for buildings; selling commercial lands; providing facilities of commercial lands; dividing lands among the exporters; marketing carpets and other handicrafts; immunity of rent for those who want to invest in ice-making field, flower preparing field, and some food processing fields for the first five years.
 
The policy has been envisaged to encourage investors to invest extensively in Afghanistan. On the part of government, believe the experts, it is imperative to provide concrete roads, uninterrupted electricity supply, hassle-free transport, legal and judicial services, long-duration visas and a center for solving the problems between ACCI and the investors.
 
The crosss-section of people we spoke to seconded same thoughts. To make sure the policy is implemented and executed well; High Investment Commission, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) should distribute lands swiftly. The 400 million USD the Central Bank of Afghanistan had lended as bank trust to foreign banks should be brought back. The organisations should give AISA the authority to issue commercial licenses. The taxes of all agricultural, industrial and export products should be brought down from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. The investors who want to invest in wind power should be exempted from custom tax for the devices and materials they import from foreign countries, believe people.

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