The Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, hosted by the United Nations and co-chaired by the United Nations and the Government of Afghanistan, is to take place on 28 November, 2018. The conference is organized for the international community and the Government of Afghanistan to demonstrate progress to date and renew commitments toward peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.
Consistent with its mandate, Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) intends to contribute to the evidence base of the discussions at the Geneva Conference based on a pre-conference consultation in an open forum on September 5, 2018 with participation from a wide range of stakeholders.
This open forum will serve as an enabling space for closer interface between state authorities and civil society on peace and prosperity based on evidence, trust and complementarity. The outcome of this event will be a series of policy briefs, briefing papers, and position papers for wide dissemination prior to, during, and after the Geneva Conference. The briefs will be grouped under the four cross-cutting themes of peace, anti-corruption, gender equality, and human security.
There will be a follow up roundtable event in early November 2018 to discuss the specific agenda points of the Geneva Conference and opportunities for constructive dialogue between state and civil society toward meeting Afghanistan’s development objectives.
You are cordially invited to attend this open forum on September 5, 2018 – details of the venue to be announced soon – in Kabul, Afghanistan. Priority for attendance will be given to civil society organizations, government officials, and international donor organizations active in Afghanistan. Subject to space availability, unaffiliated individuals may also attend.
During this forum, there will be roundtable discussions on:
- Taking stock of state-civil society relations in Afghanistan
- Peace negotiations
- Gender Equality
- Human Security
The Government of Afghanistan’s Tax Amnesty program ends on October 28, 2018. Citizens’ Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) has been providing free technical and legal advice to NGOs that wish to take advantage of the Tax Amnesty program of the Ministry of Finance and obtain clearances of their back taxes and penalties from 2001 through to 2017.
CFAC offers the following services:
- Assistance in filling the tax forms, preparing documents and organizing the tax dossier
- Completing the checklist for dossier submission to the Ministry of Finance
- Accompanying tax clearance applicants to the Ministry of Finance and providing technical and legal advice as necessary
CFAC provides the services of a Tax Specialist and a Lawyer when necessary.
The assistance by CFAC is provided within the legal framework of Afghanistan.
Contact CFAC by email at email@example.com or by phone at 0787 226 747.
The deadline for using CFAC’s services regarding the Tax Amnesty is Tuesday 28th of August 2018.
A coordination meeting of National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) and Provincial Advocacy Committees (PACs) was held on June 25, 2018, at APPRO main office, Kabul. The objective of the meeting was to report progress on advocacy efforts at the national and provincial level as well as coordinating and prioritizing future advocacy issues to be carried out at the national level. In this meeting the National Advocacy Committee (NAC-PP) and provincial Advocacy Committees (PACs) presented and discussed their annual advocacy activities.
The event was organized by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO), Secretariat of NAC-PP, following the advocacy meetings carried out by National Advocacy Committee at the national level with ministries of education and health.
The event was sequenced as follow:
- Presentation of NAC-PP mandates, vision, mission, and structure
- Presentation of NAC-PP achievements to date and ways forward
- Presentation of the Balkh advocacy committee
- Presentation of the Takhar advocacy Committee
- Presentation of the Daikundi advocacy committee
- Presentation of the Nangarhar advocacy committee
- Presentation of the Herat advocacy committee
- Group work for identifying problems that need for advocacy with relevant government organs in national level
The full report of the event and its proceedings is available here
The training workshop
On May 30, 2018 Citizens Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) platform held a training workshop to introduce the recently approved Tax Amnesty program. The initiative was taken by the Afghanistan Public policy Research Organization (APPRO) as the secretariat, of NAC-PP, 27 Participants from 22 Organizations attended the training workshop.
The training agenda aimed to introduce the taxation process in Afghanistan, the legal and procedural framework for clearing taxes, and the recently introduced Tax Amnesty program, opening the discussion on the possible the ways forward. Participants had the opportunity to understand and get familiar with the different processes associated with tax amnesty program in Medium Taxpayers Office. The training looked into specific such as filling forms, payment of withholding taxes, submission of annual income tax return and arranging the supporting documents. It also introduced the NGOs to the tax calendar organized by the Ministry of Finance, which define the deadline for the submission of documents. Subsequently, the participants received a practical presentation of the tax forms necessary to proceed with filing tax forms including annual tax forms, wage withholding forms, and quarterly reporting forms.
The full report of the training and its proceedings is available here.
On May 12, 2018, the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) held an advocacy meeting with Ministry of Education in Kabul to follow up on the issues shared during the advocacy event held on February 20, 2018.
The initiative was taken by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO), Secretariat of NAC-PP, and attended by the following NAC-PP members: New Message for Afghan Women organization (NMAWO), Afghan National Association for Adult Education (ANAFAE), Afghan Youth New Era Organization (AYNEO), Support for Vulnerable People Organization (SVPO), Mehr Advocacy and Human Rights Organization (MAHO), Nawed Naw Students Associations and War Child Canada.
Issues brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education are listed below. These issues had been raised on February 20, 2018 by NAC-PP and the Provincial Advocacy Committees (PACs), Provincial Councils, and Directorates of Education of Balkh, Daikundi, Herat, Nangarahar and Takhar provinces.
- Inadequate tashkeel
- Insufficient standard school buildings and inappropriate educational environment.
- Shortage and long delays in the distribution of text books.
- Difficulties in the provision high school certificate.
The Deputy Ministry of Education acknowledged the problems shared by civil society, stressing difficulties faced by the Government in the volatile Afghanistan context. He provided details on challenges and initiatives taken by the government to overcome them, and took into account additional recommendations provided by civil society representatives present at the meeting. The Deputy Minister notably confirmed the need for the incorporation of anti-corruption in the education curricula, requesting civil society assistance in this regard.
The full report of the event and its proceedings is available here.
On May 2, 2018 National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) representatives met with representatives of the Ministry of Public Health in Kabul to discuss progress on addressing issues shared during the advocacy event held on February 20, 2018.
The meeting was organized by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) as the secretariat of NAP-CC, and attended by the following National Advocacy Committee members: Shuhada organization, Support for Vulnerable People Organization (SVPO), Afghanistan Cultural Association Joint Jerga (ACAJJ), Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA), Equality for Peace and Democracy(EPD), Mehr Advocacy and Human Rights Organization(MAHO), Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation (AABRAR), Nawed Naw Organization and War Child Canada.
On February 20, NAC-PP, and the Provincial Advocacies Committee (PACs) Provincial Councils, Directorates of Public Health and Education from Balkh, Takhar, Daikundi, Herat, had discussed the following issues with the Ministry of Public Health:
- Shortage of specialized hospitals and services
- Insufficient maternal care services
- Shortage of female doctors
- Import of low-quality medicine and shortage of medicine in public hospitals
- Lack of addiction treatment centers
On May 2, the Director of the Department of Planning and Legislation of the Ministry of Public Health updated NAC-PP members on progress and initiatives taken to address the above issues.
A full report of the event and its proceedings is available here.
On April 19, 2018, NAC-PP held a consulation meeting on tax amnesty for NGOs and private sector entities at APPRO’s main Office in Kabul. The meeting was organized as part of Citizen’s Forum against Corruption (CFAC ) initiative to address corruption in tax payments.
Presentations were made on the following interrelated issues:
- An overview of National Advocacy committee for Public policy (NAC-PP)
- An overview of Anti-Corruption Subcommittee and Citizen’s Forum Against Corruption (CFAC)
- Tax Amnesty Program’s Eligibility Criteria for NGOs and private sector
Sixteen civil society organizations attended this meeting: Equality for Peace and Democracy (EPD), Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR), Afghan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo), Afghan Women’s Educational Centre (AWEC), Afghan Coordination against Corruption (AFCAC), Relief Humanitarian and Development Organization (RHDO), Hand in Hand Afghanistan, Youth Thinkers’ Society (YTS), New Message for Afghan Women (NMAO), Cordaid, Supporting Vulnerable People Organization (SVPO), Naweed Naw and Afghan Cultural Associations Joint Jerga (ACAJJ).
Overview of National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP)
NAC-PP Chairperson presented the vision, mission, goal and objectives of NAC-PP as a platform to facilitate evidence based advocacy at national level with close coordination with provincial advocacy committees.
Anti-Corruption Subcommittee and Citizen’s Forum against Corruption
The objectives of the Anticorruption Subcommittee of NAC-PP were described to the participants with additional details on Citizens’ Forum against Corruption (CFAC) whose mandate is to assist civil society organizations and private sector entities in protecting themselves against corrupt practices by tax officials.
The Secretariatof NAC-PP informed the participants on how CFAC could provide support and technical assistance to those entities that wished to take advantage of the Tax Amnesty Program announced by the government. CFAC has contracted the services of a tax specialist and a legal advisor on how to go about applying for the amnesty.
Tax Amnesty Program for NGOs and Private Sector
The amnesty program is open to all taxpayers and upon successful completion of the process for this program. According to the provisions of the amnesty, a natural and legal person will be excused from the payment of 95% of penalties accrued from 2002 until the end of 2017. There are seven (7) necessary criteria for an entity to be considered eligible under the amnesty. The framework provides guidelines for taxpayers as follows:
1) If the taxpayer has submitted his financial statement, but his actual tax liability is different in initial assessment, investigation and application of tax laws from what he has reported:
- At the initial assessment step, taxpayer is obliged to pay the actual amount and the adjusted tax penalty
- While inspecting documents and tax officer finds any discrepancy between the required documents and the submitted documents, then the person can apply for this amnesty
- When applying the law and if the cases are referred for non-compliance with the tax laws
- Additional tax imposed on instances of tax evasion or concealing income
2) In case taxpayer is dissatisfied with the taxes withheld on tax forms and cases referred to courts if the tax payer gives up the dispute and settles to pay the determined tax plus any additional amounts:
- If the tax payer gives up the dispute and settles to pay the determined tax plus any additional amounts
- Following a decision by court and complaints processing unit, taxpayer is obliged to pay actual amount plus additional amounts
3) In case the taxpayer has agreed to settle taxes in instalments:
- Taxpayer can pay the actual amount with 5% of additional amount according to the amnesty
- If the penalty is left over, then the taxpayer can pay off the 5% of additional amount only
- Those taxpayers wishing to continue paying the installments, can avoid this amnesty
4) Taxpayers who did not submit financial statements from years 2002-2017:
- The taxpayer is operational and in light of the self-assessment or assessment of taxpayers offices can pay their taxes
- Inactive entities can submit their tax return forms too and proceed paying taxes according to the law
5) Taxpayers subject to penalties and/or have not fulfilled fixed tax obligations (taxes imposed on imports, contracts, exhibitions, transport of goods & customers for business purpose) based on articles specified in the tax procedures, such as failure to submit financial statements, tax forms and income disclosure can clear their taxes by using this amnesty.
6) Other situations (for example violations and non-compliance) that are mentioned in the tax law.
7) Additional taxes that are paid prior to implementation of this procedure are not subject to reimbursement.
The full guidelines of the Ministry of Finance in Dari are available here.
The following key priorities were discussed:
- The need for urgent mobilization of resources and utilizing the opportunity for obtaining tax clearance from the Ministry of Finance while the amnesty is in effect.
- Taking advantage of the opportunity to utilize technical and legal advice from CFAC for CSOs to clear their outstanding taxes.
- Contradiction between the tax system in practice and the Tax Law and how this contradiction leads to cheating by tax payers or extortion by tax collectors.
- The need for entities wishing to clear their tax penalties to coordinate their efforts with CFAC so that CFAC can provide maximum support. It was also broadly agreed the higher the number of CSOs clearing their tax penalties, the more difficult for corrupt tax officials to extort by offering to act as fixers.
- The present civil society representatives shared different problems in the tax payment and assessment. The problems ranged from submission of financial statements and annual audits to non-uniform procedures of tax clearance procedures in different provinces. Some participants raised concern about the lack of consistency and uniform legal awareness within the Ministry of Finance with its departments in the provinces. For example, an organization is excused from paying taxes, holding an official letter from MoF in Kabul but the letter is accepted in some provinces while rejected in others.
- It was collectively agreed to gather and accumulate tax issues from several organizations and organize a one day workshop on Tax Law and guidelines on the tax procedures.
- It is necessary to combine several tax problem cases and approach MoF as a group. Collective voice and critical mass would be the two necessary success conditions.
- It would be the responsibility of today’s present civil society actors especially ACBAR and ACSFo as the umbrella organizations to communicate this initiative to their members and partners. The Secretariat of NAC-PP made it clear that the CFAC initiative is not only offered to NAC-PP members but all those civil society and private sector entities that have tax issues and want to take advantage the government’s Tax Amnesty Program. .
- NAC-PP Secretariat will organize a training workshop on how to apply for the amnesty.
- It was agreed that if there were repeated complaints by taxpayers about specific tax-related issues, NAC-PP will coordinate advocacy based on consultations with members of the Anticorruption Subcommittee.
In a press conference on Sunday, January 28, 2018 the Ministry of Finance announced a tax amnesty program through which civil society organizations and private sector entities that have not cleared their taxes and have incurred penalties for the fiscal years of 1381 through 1396 (2002-2017), may pay the original tax along with 5% of the total penalties for these years. The entities that successfully complete this process will be excused from paying the remaining 95% of the tax penalties. This amnesty program will end in September 2018.
The amnesty program offers a great opportunity for NGOs and private sector entities to operate within the bounds of law and eliminate the possibility of coercion by corrupt tax officials. At the same time, NGOs and private sector entities will contribute to efforts for transparency in tax assessment, payment, and collection processes.
CFAC will provide technical and legal assistance to NGOs and private sector entities that wish to take advantage of the tax amnesty.
Interested NGOs and private sector entities are invited to attend a consultation meeting on the tax amnesty program to discuss the details of the program and address questions from the participants.
Citizens’ Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) was established in 2016 to serve as a platform through which tax paying enterprises could defend themselves against corrupt tax officials. CFAC is a part of the Subcommittee on Anti-corruption of the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP). For more information on NAC-PP, see: www.nac-pp.net
For more information on the meeting venue and date please contact: Atiq Rahimi, NAC-PP Secretariat, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “Tax Amnesty Program”.
On March 17 and 18, 2018, APPRO held a workshop on State-Civil Society Relations in Addressing Fundamental Rights in Afghanistan in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The workshop gathered representatives of Afghan public institutions, Civil society, the Independent Human Rights Commission and international experts to discuss gains made on access to basic rights in Afghanistan since 2001, challenges in protecting these gains, and pathways forward in strengthening and expanding these rights.
The workshop was organized as means to provide a basis for constructive dialogue and cooperation between State and Civil Society in Afghanistan to work toward achieving rights-related commitments of the Afghan Government.
This workshop consisted of the following segments:
Discussion on the use of evidence to inform policy dialogue and action on fundamental rights: This segment built on findings from monitoring and researching the conditions for fundamental rights in Afghanistan through the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) project, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and focused on three key rights areas. These were: Access to Health, Access to Education, and the rights of the internally displaced and returnee migrants.
Insights on State-Civil Society relations in other contexts: Two international experts discussed frameworks and mechanisms for state-civil society interactions on fundamental rights based on evidence from research in other contexts. Professor Pearl Eliadis, Human Rights Lawyer and Adjunct Professor at McGill University (Canada) gave a presentation on findings from a five-year research project on state-civil society relations through the Voices-Voix Canada project and discussed the implications of the findings for State-Civil Society relations in Afghanistan, focusing on the need for an enabling environment for civil society. Dr. Sarah Pugh, Research Fellow with the Centre for International and Comparative Politics at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and Managing Editor for Reproductive Health Matters, presented findings from a case study on State-Civil Society engagement toward the protection of fundamental rights in South Africa and its implications for Afghanistan. These provided the basis for an engaged discussion on the interfaces and mechanisms for interaction between government and civil society in the context of Afghanistan.
Action Plans for better engagement between State and Civil Society on health, education, and migrant rights based on identifying Actors, Factors and Mechanisms: The participants formed three groups to develop and present action plans incorporating evidence and experience to address three key rights issues in Afghanistan. These were: the reintegration of returnees, improved access to preventive health, and improved access to education in remote areas.
With the aim to further strengthen State-Civil Society relations in Afghanistan, follow-up actions to the March 17-18 workshop will include:
– A workshop in Kabul to finalize the Action Plans toward improved State-Civil Society relations in health, education, and migrant rights
– Joint development of recommendations and a monitoring mechanism to follow up on Action Plans
– A roadmap for engagement between civil society and relevant state institutions on each of the three themes.
– A joint CSO/State press conference on outcomes of the workshop and follow-up actions.
On February 20, 2018 an advocacy event was held in Kabul with Ministries of Public Health, Education and Finance. The objective of the event was to share with national level institution specific issues related to the health and education sectors identified by the Provincial Advocacies Committee (PACs) and National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) in Balkh, Takhar, Nangarhar, Herat and Daikundi provinces.
This coordination event was organized by Afghanistan Public Policy Organization (APPRO) as the Secretariat, of NAC-PP, Peace Training and Research Organization (PTRO) and Oxfam.
73 participants attended the event, including NAC-PP members, PAC members from Balkh, Takhar, Daikundi, Nangarhar, and Herat provinces; Provincial Councils members, provincial officials of the health and education directorates, the Director of Strategic Planning and Action of Ministry of Education, the head of the Press Department of the Ministry of Education, the head of the Provincial Budgeting Department of the Ministry of Finance, Parliament member from Takhar province, the Senior Advisor to the President in Conflict Resolution, and media.
The event was sequenced as follows:
- Opening statement.
- Progress report on Citizen-State project activities and their relevance.
- Presentation of advocacy requests and recommendations for the health and education sectors.
- Responses and positions of Ministries of Public health, Education and Finance regarding the advocacy issues presented by provincial advocacy committees (PACs)
- Speech by the Senior Advisor to the President in Conflict Resolution regarding the presented advocacy issues.
The full report of the event and its proceedings is available here.