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President Ghani exempts some media outlets from tax penalties

Ghani mediaKABUL: President Ashraf Ghani through a decree has exempted media outlets, except TV channels, from paying tax fines, an official said on Tuesday.

The presidential order was read out by Abdul Subhan Rauf, deputy head of the Administrative Office of the President (AOP), on Tuesday during the president’s meeting with representatives of print, audio, broadcasting agencies and media outlets.

He said the order was aimed at resolving problems, preventing bankruptcy of media outlets and supporting and strengthening them.

The decree says: “In accordance with the Article 12th of the Income Tax Law, media outlets that have so far not paid their taxes, should pay the charges in monthly installments during a maximum time of seven years.”

Based on the order, previous tax fines and tax installments of such institutes have been written off.

Sidiqullah Tawhidi, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) representative, thanked the president for resolving a huge problem of media outlets.

Tawhidi said currently 672 cases of violence against journalists were under investigation and of the cases 172 belonged to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the rest to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).

From the first day of January this year, about 75 cases of violence against journalists had been recorded till date, he added.

“We pay taxes to the government, but we don’t receive benefits of retirement and insurance. While our work at government organizations is not counted as experience or job career for journalists.”

President Ghani after listening the demands and suggestions of media representatives said: “We and you have changed the negative discussion into a constructive debate.”

Ghani said the freedom of expression was more valuable than money and added: “If there is a need for amendments to the Income Tax Law, I’m ready to sign it.”

He said the current freedom of expression in Afghanistan was not a gift from anyone but it was achieved with efforts spanning one hundred years.

He said the unity government paid serious attention to investigative journalism. He directed the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) to consider two to four awards for investigative journalism in order to pave the way for a fair competition.

He said the unity government had the political will to investigate cases of violence against journalists, saying investigations would be carried out fundamentally and in accordance with the law. “No one is above the law.”

He ordered government officials, especially governors, to avoid misbehaving with journalists, adding they should be respected and their threatening was ‘unacceptable’.

He also asked the media to act ‘conscientiously’. About hiring female reporters at government institutions, the president said the Presidential Palace and all ministries should provide proper job opportunities to them.

The president directed the minister of finance, who was present at the meeting, to gather up suggestions offered by the present media outlets and convert them into an appropriate scheme. -Pajhwok

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