Kabul [Afghanistan], July 5 (ANI): Pakistan is importing around 3,000 tonnes of coal from Afghanistan each day, a media report said on Monday amid the ongoing energy crisis confronting the Shehbaz Sharif government.
The increased imports help thermal power plants to generate low-cost electricity in cash-strapped Pakistan, as coal imports from Afghanistan are relatively cheaper compared to other sources.
This demand is expected to jump to 20,000 tonnes after the beginning of a coal operation from Kundian in Mianwali district and Sibi in Balochistan, TOLOnews reported.
The Afghan news agency said Pakistan is using Afghan coal for power plants in various cities. The Taliban-led Afghan Ministry of Petroleum and Mines said there is no official contract with the Pakistan government or any Pakistani organization regarding the export of Afghanistan's coal.
"We don't have any contract with any foreign country or any foreign company about coal. Of course, we have our sales to the private sector and companies and traders," said Islmatullah Burhan, a spokesperson for the ministry.
Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the import of super-critical quality coal from Afghanistan in Pakistani rupee instead of dollars to help generate low-cost electricity in the country.
He also gave orders to the relevant authorities to create an efficient system in this regard.
The Taliban in response increased the price of coal by 30 per cent after Shehbaz Sharif approved importing coal from Afghanistan.
According to the Taliban, the purpose of increasing the price of coal is to increase the amount of tax and generate revenue for the country which is already in economic turmoil due to the drying up of international aid.
It is noteworthy that the Taliban-led government collects 30 per cent of customs duty on coal exports. Experts believe that selling Afghanistan coal for Pakistani rupees affects the Afghan economy.
"The sale of the coal with Pakistani rupees to Pakistan is an illogical economic movement, I think. This belongs to Pakistan and will benefit Pakistan, but the Afghan government should not do such a thing," said Sayed Masoud, an economist.
Afghanistan's total mineral resources are estimated to be potentially worth over USD 1 trillion, including gold, precious stones, coal, oil and gas, lithium, and rare-earth minerals, according to Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
Due to the current lack of data on the mining sector and the vagueness of Taliban sources of revenue, it is hard to estimate the Taliban's income from mining.
Licit output and revenue from Afghanistan's extractives sector were already low and have further declined since the Taliban's takeover due to lack of expertise among the Taliban and the current liquidity crisis. (ANI)