Afghan Customs Fines Add to Cost of US Withdrawal


U.S. officials say the cost of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan is rising as the Kabul government imposes heavy fines for cargo without valid customs forms.

The Afghan government is demanding the U.S. military pay $1,000 for every shipping container crossing its border without a proper form, and the fines so far add up to $70 million, The Washington Post reported Thursday. U.S. military officials are resorting to heavier use of air transport to move the cargo, the report said.

The Afghan government practice could add hundreds of millions, or perhaps even billions, of dollars to the cost of the U.S. withdrawal, the newspaper said.

The issue is part of a larger dispute involving Afghanistan's power to impose business taxes and fines on U.S. defense contractors, the reported said -- and has the potential to complicate negotiations on a U.S.-Afghan security agreement covering U.S. military forces remaining in Afghanistan the NATO-led coalition's mission formally ends in 2014.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction notified Congress in June Afghan government officials were trying to collect nearly $1 billion in business taxes and fines from U.S. contractors, the Post said.

Afghanistan this week blocked inbound fuel and equipment shipments intended for use by Afghan security forces, resulting in a buildup of U.S. military cargo.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, has requested a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the matter.

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